This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: Edelweiss
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
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In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

Before This Monstrous Thing became available on Edelweiss, I was really, REALLY looking forward to it. In high school I read Frankenstein for a paper on gothic literature, and while I really loved Mary Shelley’s classic, I haven’t read any retellings other than A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd. I thought I would have read the book closer to its publication date, but something amazing happened and I ended up reading This Monstrous Thing way back in April. Why, you ask? 


Okay here’s the whole story: For one of my university courses, Introduction to Communication Writing, I had to write a profile on someone local. I knew it was going to be an author because, hello? BOOKS. ARE. MY. LIFE. So I did a little digging around and I found out that Mackenzi actually lives in Boston. I’d heard about her book so obviously I asked her if I could write a profile on her and interview her (assignment requirement), and she was SUPER sweet and we met up and talked for TWO HOURS about her and her book. It was all kinds of awesome-sauce.

Anyway, so that’s why I had to read the book early. This Monstrous Thing was absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading the book in one sitting. As Mackenzi mentioned during the interview, it’s more of a reimagining than a retelling and I totally agree. The events that happen prior to where the book starts is what actually influences the publication of Frankenstein in the book–so as you can see, there’s a whole topsy-turvy sort of way about this book that makes it so much more complicated than a retelling.

Alasdair was such a great character, and I’m so happy because there aren’t many male voices in YA compared to the amount of female ones. Obviously, there are many, but not enough. One of the elements of gothic stories is the tragic hero, or events or traits that flaw the hero, and it’s a pretty big part of the story. I don’t want to give too much away here, but it definitely has to do with his past and the events of that one night that changed everything. The rest of the cast was great. Mary Shelley is an actual character in this book, which was pretty strange for me, considering not many actual authors really make appearances in works of YA fiction...unless it's Here, There Be Dragons, of course. But yeah, you’ll be a bit surprised at Mary’s character though, because she isn’t exactly *the best person ever*.

One part of the story I didn’t really like though was the mystery of who writes Frankenstein. Obviously, we all know because Mary Shelley actually did write it real life (duh). But it’s quite a big shock to the other characters, which absolutely makes sense. felt a little anti-climatic because it seemed like this whole big build-up to something that the readers most likely already know. Too much time spent on a mystery that just fell a little flat. Other than this though, I definitely enjoyed the build-up to the end. I’m sad that there won’t be more books (ones that would explore more gothic books!), but I’m happy where it ends as well.

A historical steampunk reimagining of a dark classic, This Monstrous Thing was a fabulous read. Filled with beautiful descriptions of Europe’s gorgeous scenery interlaced with sharp grim and gory details, Mackenzi Lee is a wonderful writer that has put a lot of heart into her debut. I can’t wait to find out what she comes up with next–I’m sure it’ll be as imaginative and as exceptional as this one.

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  1. I was so excited for this one but I've been reading a lot of mixed reviews for this and I'm kind of unsure whether or not I should still read it. I might though since I have it as an e-book and can read it whenever :D But I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    Asma @ IceyBooks

  2. I just recently found out this was steampunk, how young is it though? It the tone close to Shepard's? I ask because I can't do super young, I did like Shepard's adaptation though


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