Monday, August 25, 2014

The Monster's Wife

The Monster's Wife
Kate Horsley

Published August 2014

First Sentence
"Life changed when he came to the island, the foreign doctor from further away than anyone cared to know."

Publisher's Description:

(Beware!!! The description below gives things away that i don't think you should know. The parts that I think you shouldn't read are crossed out.)

A startling new sequel to Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein. Told from the perspective of the girl Victor Frankenstein transformed into a Bride for his monster.

To a tiny island in the Scottish Orkneys, peopled by a devout community of twenty, comes Victor Frankenstein, driven there by a Devil's bargain: to make a wife for the Creature who is stalking him across Europe. In this darkly-wrought answer to Frankenstein, we hear the untold tale of the monster's wife through the perspective of the doctor's housemaid. Oona works below stairs with her best friend May, washing the doctor's linens and keeping the fires lit at the Big House. An orphan whose only legacy is the illness that killed her mother, Oona knows she is doomed. But she is also thirsty for knowledge, determined to know life fully before it slips away. As tensions heighten between Victor and the islanders, Oona becomes the doctor's trusted accomplice, aiding in secret experiments and seeing horrors she sometimes wishes to forget. When May disappears, Oona must face up to growing suspicions about the enigmatic employer to whom she has grown close - but the truth is darker than anything she could imagine.

A literary gothic, in the tradition of Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea and Valerie Martin’s Mary Reilly.

Dear Reader,

Before I go into how interesting and unique this book is, I'd like to point out how interesting and unique the Author's bio is. Here is the first part:
Born into a family of eccentrics, I was raised in a haunted house on the outskirts of London. The daughter of a mad scientist and a crime fiction expert, I developed an early obsession with laboratories and monsters. At the age of 4, I wrote and illustrated my first collection of gothic tales, 'Fenella the Witch Fights the Hairy Sea Lion Giant', but struggled to find a publisher.
As you can see, she sounds amazing, right? Even before I started reading the book, I knew I would like her writing (our interests seemed to lie in the same realm of quirks). Kate Horsley, will you be my friend? 

With that out of the way, the book didn't disappoint me... which is kind of surprising since the premise and the Author gave me high expectations. First thing to know is, DON'T READ THE DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK ON GOODREADS, it gives things away that I refuse to talk about in this review (although I'm itching to). The story is written in that "old fashioned" way, very reflective on the original "Frankenstein" novel. You can tell Kate Horsley loves this stuff and wants to honor the original work. The Monster's Wife is almost like a refurbished piece of furniture, keeping that old school charm of the piece but creating a different feel to it, maybe something more comfortable or practical. She takes Victor Frankenstein and places him on a remote island in Scotland, running away from his creation (his original Monster). Victor thinks he has given space between him and his family to keep them safe and hoped the "Monster" would leave them alone.

The other characters of this novel are Oona and May, two local girls who are considered best friends. Oona is still that gangly, homely girl who doesn't have an interest in growing up or boys. While May is the girl who is blossoming and she is actively working on a romance with a boy on the island. May ends up working for Victor Frankenstein as a maid and Oona eventually follows her over and is given her own "job". The first half of the book is solid character development and hardly any action happens. I wasn't opposed to the way the Author handled that though, I love getting connected to the characters before the big bang happens. Without giving away anything, I'd also like to point out how IMPORTANT it is to feel something for both of the girls before you come to the ending, very important. I loved the way the Author has given us this look into Scottish Island life, the words, accents and closeness of everyone. I found the slang to be charming, even though I had to stop and look things up all the time. It felt like a magical world, but I had to keep reminding myself that the island isn't the fantasy part of the book.

Since I don't want to give much away, I do want to let all those scaredy cats out there that this is nothing to worry about. Arianna, this means you! This book has nothing that would make you cringe, jump or even give you insomnia. The idea of a man creating a "monster" with science isn't a new concept and yes, it's a little creepy... maybe more than a little BUT there is nothing super gross or spooky about this. I would describe the "horror" to be more of a thoughtful kind, disturbing to think of as a concept but nothing will pull you under the bed at night. I would recommend this to anyone who loves "Frankenstein" or novels about small communities with a different way of life. I would even go so far and say this has a historical fiction quality about it, but instead of history... the Author pulls from literary history. This will be a favorite of mine and I'll continue to follow Kate Horsley in her literary career like a good cheerleader. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do... since you'll be picking this up when it comes out and reading it, yep.

Happy Reading,

The Monster's Wife

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