Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Afternoon cat pile.

Why I Read It: It’s a classic that’s been kicking around on my list for a long time.

Where I Got It: paperbackswap

Who I Recommend This To: Folks who like character depth in the monsters would enjoy this novel.

Narrators: Anthony Heald, Stefan Rudnicki, Simon Templeman

Publisher: Blackstone Audio (2008)

Length: 8 hours 42 minutes

This classic surprised me with depth of character, even in Frankenstein’s unnamed monster. Mary Shelley had an intense if short life; she lost her first 3 children, her husband died during a sailing accident, and she herself expired at 53 due to a brain tumor. Sucks. All of that happened after she wrote Frankenstein, which I can only imagine intensified her later works (definitely on my TBR pile).

Large chunks of this book are told through letters and memories captured in letters, which carried the story well. The story starts with Cpt. Walton writing to his sister about his activities on whaling boats in the far north and his loneliness. He and his crew then see something odd on the ice flows and rescue a man near death, Frankenstein. The story then jumps back in time to Frankenstein’s childhood and early college days. He was a bit of a daydreamer and became fascinated with the idea of imbuing dead flesh with life. The actual detail of the life-giving act to Frankenstein’s creation is kept vague and happens without great fanfare. The suspense is built up to the first nefarious deeds of the creature created by Dr. Frankenstein and then held at the high level to very end. Damn good writing.

After the death of two who Frankenstein cared about, he comes face to face with his zombie-like creation. This part was particularly exciting as we hear what his creation has been doing with his time on his own and what he wants from Frankenstein. I felt greatly for this mish-mashed animated man; shortly after showing signs of life, he was abandoned by his creator to fend for himself, then humans fear him because of his size and his looks so he has zero friends, and finally he is the only one of his kind. The rest of the book is Frankenstein dodging what he promised his creation, fleeing to the far north.

This was an excellent Gothic novel and I am very glad I took the time to explore it. This tale explores the idea of inherent goodness vs. inherent evil and raises the important question of responsibility of life brought into this work (whether a child or mish-mash zombie).

The audio was well done between our three narrators. I have been a fan of Stefan Rudnicki, the voice of the monster, for some time. He did not let me down in this production.

What I Liked: Suspenseful; good counterpoint between enjoyment of nature and family and the despair of loosing those things held dear; the very human side to the creature.

What I Disliked: While there were several female characters, they all had minor roles.

As part of Stainless Steel Droppings’ R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril event, I am going to count this book as Gothic Fiction. This event is still going strong until the end of October, so feel free to hop over there and join the fun.

6 thoughts on “Frankenstein by Mary Shelley”

  1. This is one of my favorite books. When I first read it I thought it would just be scary. It is terrifying, but it offers so much more. The character studies are wonderful.

    1. I grew up my whole life watching these Frankenstein movies and tv shows – from the gruesome to the ridiculous. So I had all those superficial ideas about this book. It was excellent to discover the original so much better than any of those spinoffs.

  2. I loved Frankenstein when I read it as a teen. But it’s also so much more than just a horror novel. I’m not sure I understood that then. I’ll have to read it again. Thanks for the review

  3. Oh, I’m so glad you loved this. Frankenstein and Dracula are such brilliant books and I’m always a bit on edge when I see someone else’s reviews in case they really don’t like them. It’s a great story and so well portrays the case of nature vs nurture. I never thought the monster was inherently bad. He was abandoned and frankly treated badly and always felt sorry for him.
    Shelley’s life certainly did seem intense. I had no idea. I would be interested to know if her novel was successful during her life. It’s clearly had a major influence on so many books and films since.
    Lynn 😀

    1. I was surprised by my final reaction to the creature too – he’s abandoned upon ‘birth’, has to figure everything out on his own, never gets a name, goes through life without a friend, etc. Yet, can I say that he is any more evil or good that Dr. Frankenstein? No. This book was definitely worth my time.

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