Tuesday 7 November 2023

Mary; or the Birth of Frankenstein by Anne Eekhout | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Mary; or the Birth of Frankenstein by Anne Eekhout
My rating: 4/5
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Publication date: 2nd November 2023

There is a beast inside her, a monster. It wants to scream, it wants to tear things apart.

1816. Mary, eighteen years old, is staying in a villa on Lake Geneva with her lover Percy Shelley. She is tormented by his infidelities; haunted by the loss of her baby daughter.

Then one evening with friends, as storms rage outside and laudanum stirs their imaginations, Lord Byron challenges everyone to write a ghost story, and something fierce and wild awakens in Mary.

Memories surface of the long, strange summer she once spent with a family in Scotland, where she found herself falling in love with the enigmatic Isabella Baxter. She learned tales of mythical beasts, witches and spirits. And she encountered real monsters - both in the rocky wilds, and far, far closer to home...

Illuminating the past like a flash of lightning, this brilliant reimagining of the birth of Frankenstein takes us into a feverish world of waking dreams-where grief mingles with desire, and the veil between beauty and horror grows thin.

I very rarely read historical fiction but I always make an exception for books about Mary Shelley. I've read two others this year (Our Hideous Progeny by C. E. McGill and Reproduction by Louisa Hall) and I really enjoyed them so I was excited for this take.

Mary; or the Birth of Frankenstein is told from two timelines. In 1816, Mary, her husband Percy, their baby son and stepsister Claire, are at the residence of Lord Byron at Lake Geneva where there are fellow poets in attendance. They begin to exchange ghost stories. When challenged to write the best horror story, Mary remembers another time in her life, four years earlier in Dundee, Scotland where she joins the Baxter family, instantly having a rapport with Isabella, the daughter who is still in grieving after losing her mother.

The family exchange stories in a similar way, these can be fiction or non-fiction. Mary takes things that have happened on her adventures and embellishes them a little. The girls spend their time outdoors and eventually happen upon a monster of sorts and they debate what is true. The relationship grows deeper between Mary and Isabella but Isabella's brother-in-law Mr Booth, who Mary has her doubts about, has been watching them. This encourages Mary Shelley to write her famous Frankenstein novel.

This is translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson and it is just absolutely gorgeous. I fell so quickly into the story and I actually had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction. In true gothic style, you have that sinister feeling right from the beginning and it flows beautifully. You feel a real change in Mary in just four short years, especially after losing a child rising. It is dark, moody and just stunning.

A massive thank you to Pushkin Press for having me on the blog tour. You can find information about the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphic below.

Be First to Post Comment !
Post a Comment