book reviews, Uncategorized

Monsters Review

40060754 Monsters by Sharon Dogar

Rating: XXX

Published February 7th by Anderson Press

“I am Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley” she says aloud. “I am each of those names and I am myself.”

1814: Mary Godwin, the sixteen-year-old daughter of radical socialist and feminist writers, runs away with a dangerously charming young poet – Percy Bysshe Shelley. From there, the two young lovers travel a Europe in the throes of revolutionary change, through high and low society, tragedy and passion, where they will be drawn into the orbit of the mad and bad Lord Byron.
But Mary and Percy are not alone: they bring Jane, Mary’s young step-sister. And she knows the biggest secrets of them all . . .

Told from Mary and Jane’s perspectives, Monsters is a novel about radical ideas, rule-breaking love, dangerous Romantics, and the creation of the greatest Gothic novel of them all: Frankenstein.

I hate to admit, I’ve never read Frankenstein, I have a nice copy ready and waiting to be read but as someone who tends to read based on my mood quite often I’ve just never found myself with a huge desire to read it, I’ll admit I also tend to steer clear of reading “classics” for whatever reason that I’ve not discovered myself yet. I have found myself curious about its author though, a young girl who essentially created the horror genre and this is why when I heard about a YA retelling of the life of that author I decided to give it a go. This review is as spoiler-free as I can make it but with the life of an important and popular figure like Mary Shelley, there are a few things that are already well known.

First off I would like to say that Monsters is well written and the language flows well, with the age of the characters and the time period I wasn’t sure I would be especially comfortable with the language but I was pleased to find it didn’t hinder me at all and if anything really added to the feel of the piece instead of being too distracting which I have found to be the case with other books written in this time period.

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I found this read difficult because although I don’t in any way disagree with the idea of polyamorous relationships or free love when approached in a proper, consenting adult way but I found the way it was addressed by the main characters to be extremely uncomfortable. This may be because of their age but I think most of it came down to the fact that they all seemed to look at in vastly different ways when to me, the most important part of this kind of relationships is to make sure that everyone is on the same page and it didn’t feel like that was happening here. To me, Shelley just seemed to use his radical beliefs as an excuse to run out on his responsibilities where possible and change lovers because he was bored. I understand not wanting to be tied down by marriage and the idea of loving or being attracted to more than one person, even at the same time but this requires a lot more communication than he ever seems to do other than holding his “beliefs” up as a shield when he gets caught out. Mary came across as jealous and not agreeing to the ideals she seems to have romanticised to the extreme and more interested in the feminist side of the ideals being that a woman isn’t held down by marriage and doesn’t become a belonging of the man she loves but honestly it rather felt like this happened to her anyway. Her stepsister Jane, later Clare, I feel was the true believer and actually at some points had the best understanding of what it means to be polyamorous with the only jealousy she feels being more to do with the fact that everyone gets pushed to the side when Mary is involved than with the ideals. Despite seeming a little unbearable to begin with became a favourite character of mine and one of the viewpoints I enjoyed reading the most.

I hadn’t realised how much of a tragic life Mary Shelley led and although this book only goes so far as the finishing of Mary writing Frankenstein there is an afterword at the end which explains what the fate of each of the characters was to be. There are some truly dark moments in this book that are written so especially well that they can really pull you down to a dark place so please be aware of trigger warnings for infant death and suicide. This is a hard book for me to describe and review, its certainly a poignoint, thought-provoking and moving book that brought me to tears a number of times,  with great pacing with characters who are immensely complex but it wasn’t enjoyable for me in the way a lot of books are, I enjoy books with some angst and darker themes at times but I think this might have been a bit too real for me personally. Its certainly an incredible read that I think definitely merits attention but I think it should be something that maybe isn’t an impulse buy and that needs to be thought through before reading because this isn’t a love story in the way it first sounds, it’s a story of passion yes but also of pain and fear and loss which I think can be a little overpowering for some, certainly for me.

Thank you so very much to Anderson Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Events

YALC – Day One Recap

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Finally getting around to doing my YALC recap and I realised that I didn’t want to miss anything out and I actually ended up doing quite a bit in the end so I decided to spilt them up into days to make it a bit of an easier read with any luck! So today lets talk about day one, the Friday.

I was super excited and nervous as I hadn’t come alone to YALC before and wasn’t sure what to expect with queuing etc but it really helped to have been chatting with the lovely people in the SundayYA twitter chat group a few weeks before hand so I felt like I’d at least know some people when I got there. I met up with Kirsty, we grabbed some drinks and waited in line. It was pretty hot but the great company helped time go faster and we were let into the cooler building pretty quick. Getting into YALC itself was a nice easy experience and felt much preferable to the LFCC entrance I’d used before.

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The YALC floor, although warm was still much better than I had imagined it temperature wise and I love all the space up there, there was even a quiet zone with bean bags etc which was a lovely touch. The setup was mostly the same as last year and is nice and chilled out which is lovely. I paid a visit to the Coppafeel stand and got sparkled up before heading to the Waterstones area to grab early copies of Giant Days and Only Love Can Break Your Heart so I could get them signed. The queue here was pretty huge already and Non’s signing was pretty early so I’m glad i went when I did! There was also a backdrop from the YA Prom I’d missed the week before where if you took your pic in front of it and posted it to social media you got an Only Love Can Break Your Heart Punky Pins badge from the Walker stand so of course that was the next thing I did!

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There were a couple of competitions and giveaways going on at the different publisher stands which were a lot of fun! It was so nice not to have to worry about running around trying to get ARC’s or anything, it made it so much less stressful meant I didn’t have to stay glued to my Twitter feed all day. We knew about times and locations for a lot of the compettions and draws that were happening so it was easy to fit into a schedule and be prepared. I was only interested in a few of these and am pleased to say that I actually managed to get hold of the ones I had been after as well as one I found out about that day and loved the sound of. Friday I won a copy of The Girl King from Gollancz which had been mentioned at the Orion blogger event I attended earlier in the month where we had a video call from the author about the book so I was super pleased to get that one. I also won a finished copy of LifeL1k3 by aJay Kristoff which I’ve been desperate to read and that had only just come out in a physical copy the day before which was a lovely surprise as I certainly hadn’t expected to win!

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I met up with some more of the Sunday YA people throughout the day and managed to track down my Summer Secret Santa partner to give her a box of goodies, we ended up in a lot of the same signing queues so we had lots of great chats! I got to meet Katherine Webber, Non Pratt and Joanne Harris (I WAS SO EXCITED!).

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After chilling out looking at the stands for a while and lots of sitting breaks to rest my cruddy knee and keep cool I made my way over the 200 years of Frank panel celebrating the 200th year since release of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The panel featured Ed McDonald, Joanne Harris, Matt Killeen, Melinda Salisbury & Sarah Maria Griffin. Everyone received a free new edition copy of Frankenstein (with green sprayed edges) which I particularly appreciated having not read it myself yet. The panel itself was fun and as someone who loves the “monsters” rather than the heroes in a lot of the books I read it was nice to hear the majority there tended to agree with me and it was interesting to hear about how the authors developed their own monsters.

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The only thing left to do after the panel was the Fight like a Pirate sword fighting class with Ed McDonald which I’d signed up for IMMEDIATLEY and had originally brought my Friday ticket mainly so I could attend this workshop. I WAS NOT DISSAPOINTED! I really hope this is a workshop that makes another appearance at YALC or another bookish event, it was so much fun! Thank you so much to my partner Lynne, who let me bop her on the head repeatedly. Also a huge thank you to Ed and the others from London Longsword! I had a great time!

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The journey home was surprisingly easy despite it chucking it down with rain and having to protect some MinaLima art posters (one signed!) under my top on my way to the tube station but otherwise I got off and onto my connecting train with almost no waiting. I got home, unpacked my books and other goodies and was actually shocked with the pile of books I seemed to have amassed!

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My Summer Secret Santa box had also arrived which I opened that evening to put that’s a whole other post (which is actually already done and ready to go for a change so you’ll see that next week!). All in all a great first day, I went to sleep excited and ready for more! Tune in tomorrow for Day Two! The longest day ever >.<