ARC Review: This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

22811807This Monstrous Thing

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.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book in the least.

I really enjoyed this Frankenstein retelling!  I think this book would be solid even without the Frankenstein aspect due to the author’s original and intriguing spin on history.  Alasdair’s voice was so authentic, and one of my favorite parts of the story centered around the different ways he mended people with clockwork parts.   This Monstrous Thing picks up two years after Alasdair does the unthinkable, bringing his brother back to life and creating a monster.  By the end though, you may be asking yourself, just who the monster really is!

What I liked
The Cover
This cover would definitely catch my eye in a bookstore!  I love the vagueness of the image contrasting with the bold and striking title.
The Characters
I have said before that I will follow a character I love through 1000 pages of weak plot, but not the other way around.  Thankfully with This Monstrous Thing, I didn’t have to worry.  For the most part the characters were intriguing, well-developed, and had clear motivation.  Alasdair, the main character, is so heartbreakingly human that you can’t help but rally behind him even when it’s clear he’s made some questionable decisions.  (Like who he should trust and who deserves his heart)  Oliver is fantastically flawed as he struggles to reconcile the monster he has become with the man he used to be.  I really wanted to hate Mary, but found that I couldn’t.  Clemence was a bit of a mystery to me.  I liked her character, but I could never tell exactly what she wanted from Alasdair and that didn’t sit so well with me.
The History
Makenzi Lee does a masterful job of weaving in the fanciful with the factual.  She gives us a glimpse of life of 19th century Geneva, only shadowed by they mysterious clockwork men and woman and the Shadow boys who are tasked to take care of them.

There wasn’t much I didn’t like about this book.  It was a fascinating twist on the traditional retellings we are used to, and a fairly quick read.  There were some characters I wasn’t entirely convinced by, but overall I feel this was a strong debut!
Drop me a line and tell me what your favorite retelling is!

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