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Monsters: The passion and loss that created Frankenstein

Monsters: The passion and loss that created Frankenstein

Sharon Dogar
Andersen Press Ltd
ISBN: 9781783449033

Wow! Few books that I've read recently are as pathologically compelling as this one was. A recount of the woman who starts at Mary Godwin and ends as Mary Shelley.

The book opens in her teens, with Mary being idealistic, bored and cynical. When Percy Shelley enters her life, it instantly changes - his magnetism, passion and ideals transform every single aspect of her life. Both in ways that are both good and bad.

Told through diary entries and letters, we learn all about Mary and those around her to an incredible and insightful extent. We hear from multiple points-of-view, the mixture of perspectives allowing for the book to feel objective and honest.

What makes the book so un-put-down-able is that it finds the perfect balance between the impeccable and detailed historical research, but told in such a compelling and engaging way. Soon into reading this, you quickly realise that whatever you thought you knew about Mary barely scratched the surface. We learn so much about Mary's family - the complicated family dynamics both of her family and the romantic complications that lead to even more tension.

Every single character seems laid bare and is transparently depicted - the things that made them brilliant and the things that made them flawed are fully exposed. No single character is favoured, all are unlikable to some extent - but we still care about them because of Dogar's incredible writing style. They're balanced and honest portrayals, of people who seem very real. Something that should be almost impossible as the events depicted took place 200 years ago!

A must for anyone studying either Shelley, or is just interested in the unique voice of a thoroughly modern 19th century woman.

464 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Charlotte Harrison, teacher


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