*I received a complimentary copy of this book. This has not influenced my review.*
I recently reread Frankenstein and, upon finishing, decided I wanted all the retellings. I started with this one, and I’m really glad I got the chance to read it because it was a beautiful, somewhat bittersweet story about brothers and grief and monsters and what it means to be human.
I will admit the pacing was slow and a bit uneven. Something happened near the beginning, then there was a span of the book where not much action happened and we only got to know Oliver (the main character’s resurrected brother) through memories, and then things picked up again for the last third of the book or so. However, the writing was lovely and atmospheric, so I enjoyed reading it and didn’t mind the slow pace.
The images of our vagabond youth—children of the Shadow Boys, back when we were knotted so tight together—had been washed away by my latest memories of him in Chateau de Sang, raging and snarling and tearing apart the furniture. The fight in him that I had once admired had been transformed from glowing and bright into something you could fall and cut yourself on.
As far as Frankenstein retellings go, this was a great one. It mirrored the original in some ways, but it was also its own unique story with a steampunk twist, and it touched upon issues such as humanity and prejudice. It even brought Mary Shelley herself into the story, which was interesting.
More than anything though, this was a story about brothers and the love between them. I would have enjoyed getting to see more of the relationship between them in the present, rather than mostly memories of the past, but regardless, Alasdair and Oliver’s relationship was complex and imperfect and all the more beautiful because of it.
So overall, although the pace was slow, the writing was lovely, the retelling aspect was interesting, the sibling relationship was touching, and I enjoyed reading this book!
Anyone who likes Frankenstein retellings, pretty writing, and sibling relationships.