ARC Review: This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzie Lee

Written by: Mackenzie Lee
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Pages: 384, Hardback
Series: Standalone
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Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for the e-ARC!


In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

His brother, Oliver—dead.

His sweetheart, Mary—gone.

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…


I won’t lie, this book would’ve been one of those books that I added to my TBR on GoodReads, completely forgot about, and then years later gave up and deleted off. It happens to far more books than I’m cool with admitting. But a few things wound up happening that changed that, namely I met the author while she was working. I kinda stalked her, then all awkwardly jumped over and asked her to sign my autograph book. It was such a fun interaction that I knew this book had to be bumped up my list and started ASAP.

This Monstrous Thing does start out with a huge impact, it’s the classic Frankenstein scene that we all have seen portrayed in some format or another (Pretty sure my first time watching it was Veggie Tales, but I digress). But from that one iconic moment forward everything is changed and rewritten. Not only do we jump forward two years in the lives of the characters, but everything has seemingly fallen apart for Alastair, he’s suddenly seemingly alone, there’s also no sign of his monster, or the girl he was in love with, Mary.

I don’t want to say a whole lot here because most of this book relies on both what you know about Frankenstein and the real life Mary Shelley, and I don’t want to ruin any of those surprises for you. But let me say this the more you know about Frankenstein the more you’ll enjoy this book.


This book focuses on plot, which is great, there’s a lot of story going on in a few pages. But I would have really liked to see some more characters outside of what was going on. Yes Alistair grows a lot within the book, he comes to realize who he is, and all the typical character growth. But, I’d like to see something…I don’t know what exactly just something more. More about the characters or where they’re going to go. I know, I know, it’s up to the reader to make it up as they move forward. I get that. But I just was left at the end wishing I just had…something? This is weird to type and put into words, I liked so much about the story that it’s just some intangible thing that I can’t quite put my finger on.


I know this book is being represented as a retelling, but it really isn’t. In a world of so many retellings that are the same story told again, This Monstrous Thing is an amazing fresh book that I hope starts a trend in other writers. In the truest form This Monstrous Thing is a retelling, but it’s more like an Alternate Universe(AU), taking what really happened and changing that information. Unless you read a lot of fanfiction it’s a difficult thing to explain.

Romance. Or lack thereof I should say. YA is an entire genre dedicated to the romance. It doesn’t matter if we’re writing about zombie apocalypse, or about a demon, YA loves the romance. Which is fine by me, I love the romance. But This Monstrous Thing doesn’t go there. There isn’t much romance to speak of at all, which in an industry dominated by the romance not having one could have gone badly for Lee. But it worked well, in fact I was glad that it was different, not everyone likes to read romances again and again.

I also really liked the entire ending. I really can’t say much about it, but just know that the imagery that Lee painted will stay with me for a while and was very, very well done.


I think this one depends on the kind of reading experience you’re expecting going in. If you’re looking for a flat Frankenstein retelling, well, you’re not gonna find it. But if you’re willing to go for something out of the box and a lot of fun? Be sure you snag this one when it comes out!


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