Book Review: Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein by Various Authors

 
 
This anthology has five stories, each inspired in their way by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. In one, a man uses Victor's notes to figure out how to make his own creation. In the next, a couple combines taxidermy and science to resurrect a beautiful woman. In another, a man recalls his young life and his run-in with a monster. In yet another, a detective takes on a case involving stolen body parts. In the last, a couple goes on a macabre cruise like no other.

Book Review: Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein edited by Various Authors | anthology, science fiction, horror
Title: Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein
Publisher:
Pages: 328
My Book Rating:
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher
 

Review:

*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*

I feel like I should preface this review by saying I don’t read a lot of anthologies because short stories don’t always work well for me. But I LOVE Frankenstein retellings—the original is a book with so many thought-provoking aspects to explore—so this anthology in particular had so much potential for me, and I couldn’t pass it up. Especially since these stories are on the longer side, which means more chance for me to connect with them and for them to leave an impression.

As is usually the case with anthologies, I liked some stories more than others. More thoughts on the individual stories are in the hidden section below, but there were two that stood out to me the most: “Made Monstrous” was my favorite for its story, characters, and mystery, and “Love Thee Better” had the most creative take on the Frankenstein idea and was easily the most disturbing of the bunch.

*SPOILER ALERT: My thoughts on the individual stories may contain mild spoilers.*

In “Kaseem’s Way” by Tade Thompson, a man uses Victor’s notes to figure out how to make his own creation, and the original monster himself makes an appearance. I didn’t dislike it, but it didn’t leave an impression either. But it did relate to the original because of the whole creature thing, the theme of abandonment, and the way it was another case of, “If only he hadn’t [done that violence], then maybe [he could’ve found some happiness].”

In “The New Woman” by Rose Biggin, a couple combines taxidermy and science to resurrect a beautiful woman. This one achieved the disturbing factor present in the original better than the previous story. It was also kind of a nod/twist to the original that their “creature” was so perfectly beautiful that they thought of her as art. Victor tried to make his beautiful in the original, but he failed spectacularly, whereas these two succeeded. This story didn’t blow me away either, but it raised some questions about art and beauty and humanity and what the creature would really be if you were to resurrect or piece together a person.

In “Reculver” by Paul Meloy, a man recalls his young life and his run-in with a monster. To be honest, I didn’t entirely “get” this one. And the Frankenstein aspect was weak. The main relation I can see is that idea of, “Who’s the real monster?” since there was a “monster” but also a very human monster in this one.

In “Made Monstrous” by Emma Newman, a detective takes on a case involving stolen body parts. This was my favorite in terms of story and characters, despite being more mystery than sci-fi or horror. The story had this great mystery that pulled me in and made me want to keep reading. It also had characters that I liked. It tackled the topic of sexual abuse and harassment. The female characters, and the whole story, provided a great feminist perspective. I even managed to connect to the MC some and feel some emotion at the end. This one also had that element of “Who’s the real monster?” as well as some sewn-together body parts.

In “Love Thee Better” by Kaaron Warren, a couple goes on a macabre cruise like no other. This was the most creepy and disturbing of the bunch, and one of the ones that adhered to the original Frankenstein monster idea the best. The whole thing had an uncanny, dreamlike feel. It pushed my suspension of disbelief really far that the characters would act the way they did, but I think this one was the best story in terms of mood and creativity.

 

*END SPOILER*

One of the things I liked about this anthology overall was that there was a lot of inclusivity/diversity/representation. The first story had POC main characters (Black and Hindu). The second had LGBT+ main characters (a F/F couple). The third had a disabled main character (a limp). The fourth had a main character who was a survivor of sexual abuse and possibly had PTSD or something similar from it, and it was also very feminist.

I also appreciated that each story had a connection in some way to the original story, whether through theme or actually attaching body parts together, although some had a stronger connection than others.

There was also a lot of variety. Each story was set in a different time. They varied a bit in genre too; if I were to classify, I’d say two were sci-fi, one was horror, one was mystery, and one was mostly just historical fiction. And all the stories had different premises.

Unfortunately, altogether, the anthology fell flat for me. A couple of the stories captured some of that disturbing quality of the original, one pulled me in with a great mystery, and one was creative in a horrifying way, but I wanted more from this book. More of the sci-fi/horror element. More disturbingness or thought-provokingness or emotion. Maybe I was expecting too much from short stories. Or maybe I just didn’t understand the meaning in each one and what the authors were trying to convey. All I know for sure is that I wasn’t gripped by most of these. But I think each story did have its merits, and other readers may enjoy this book more than I did.

 
 
Book Blurb

Victor Frankenstein is the first to unlock the key to life, but not the last. Over two centuries of relentless advancement, five more minds find the secret, and five more creatures are made.

Five more stories end in tragedy.

From the stinking streets of 1850s London to the sun-drenched hysteria of a modern cruise liner, amidst passion, jealousy, art, obsession, desperation and war, Creatures is a hidden history of a forbidden science.

Basic Info

Book Author: , , , ,
Publisher:
Genre: , , , ,
My Book Rating:
Series/Standalone:

More Info (Possible Spoilers)

LGBT+ Rep: ,
Disability Rep: , ,
Relationships/Sex: ,

 
 
 

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  1. Sam @ Spines in a Line

    I like all the Frankenstein content on your blog! I have the same feeling with short stories, it can be pretty hit and miss throughout but I do appreciate that they have so much variety in this anthology

  2. Daniela Ark

    I still have to read my first Frankenstein-inspired book or story. I smile when I saw the cover and title. Look so promising then I frowned when I saw the 3 stars :) I like that there is diversity and a connection between the stories. Two elements that still you don’t see often. I reading a great anthology about witches right now that is very diverse too. I’m loving it so far (it YA though :) )

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’ve reviewed like four retelling books so far, take your pick ;-) I did appreciate the diversity in this one. Ooh cool, glad your enjoying your witchy anthology!

  3. Olivia Roach

    I’m really happy you’re enjoying all of these Frankenstein retellings so much lately :) I have to admit that I am someone who doesn’t make a habit of anthologies as well. There’s always a lot of them in there that I like but then a lot that I don’t care for at all either so I always end up with a 3 star rating. It actually made me stop reading reading short story collections for a period of time until I figured reading collections all by one author works better for me than a collection anthology :/

    Olivia Roach recently posted: My Best Friend’s Exorcism [Book Review]