It was all I hoped it would be and more. This is a historical fiction recounting of Mary Shelley’s rather troubled young life. Historical fiction is not a genre I tend to gravitate towards, but Mary Shelley is one of the most famous and well-known horror writers ever, so I decided to give it a shot, and I was totally astounded.
Mary is a rebellious sixteen year old girl, playing host to several fantasies with her stepsister: flirting with a nobleman or two, plotting marriages, and heck—perhaps even wooing the affections of a dashing young poet! Mary teaches Jane, her stepsister, all she knows about the art of flirtations. After all, the lessons and discomfort that courtship entails could one day pay off!
And indeed it does when Mary happens to be in her father’s shop one day when a very interesting man comes calling. Just as Mary imagined, it’s a poet, Percy Shelley! Despite his other marital agreements, Shelley is quite taken with Mary, and whisks Mary and Jane away—to her father and stepmother’s great displeasure—to Europe, where they live in secret happiness.
The happiness, however, does not last, and Angelmonster becomes a chilling tale colored by Jane, Mary, and Shelley’s distress. Readers follow the trio throughout Europe as they run from rumors, despair, and lost passion, and as they struggle to find trust, happiness, and a family together.
On the trip, Mary learns of an alchemist whose fanciful belief in making life from death inspires the now-famous novel, Frankenstein.
Something I quite like about this book is that, despite its romantic nature, the scenes are not at all graphic, descriptive, or steamy. The reader knows that romance is happening, but only because subtle hints are given, and then the author moves on.
Also, Angelmonster is quite accurate in many of its facts about Mary’s life. For instance, all the characters are based on real people; none were made up as composite, plot-filling people. The time frame is correct for the story, and it is obvious that the language is well researched, because it is well executed.
A major inaccuracy featured in Angelmonster is the date that Frankenstein was penned. I won’t say too much about this, for fear of giving too much away, but Frankenstein was in fact written in 1818, just a year after Mary and Shelley eloped.. Ms. Bennet admits in the author’s note that she took creative license with Frankenstein’s publication date–one of the benefits of writing historical fiction.
This book is so gripping that I stayed up until one in the morning to finish it. The characters are researched and developed well, and the plot has you begging for more. It is a thoroughly great and unsettling read—not quite a horror novel, as I’d first expected, but it is worth every moment spent reading it.
Kinsey (Kinsey Alexis on Figment) lives in North Carolina, and loves writing reviews for Figment. She’s been writing and reading for as long as she can remember, and loves being able to create new worlds completely from scratch. Her favorite part about writing is creating the characters. And her favorite part about reading? Being sucked into the universe of the book, unable to escape the grip of a well-crafted novel.