Mary Shelley

All posts tagged Mary Shelley

Strange Star – Emma Carroll

Published December 19, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

They were coming tonight to tell ghost stories. ‘A tale to freeze the blood,’ was the only rule. Switzerland, 1816. On a stormy summer night, Lord Byron and his guests are gathered round the fire.

Felix, their serving boy, can’t wait to hear their creepy tales.

Yet real life is about to take a chilling turn – more chilling than any tale.

Frantic pounding at the front door reveals a stranger, a girl covered in the most unusual scars.

She claims to be looking for her sister, supposedly snatched from England by a woman called Mary Shelley.

Someone else has followed her here too, she says. And the girl is terrified. This breathtaking new book from Emma Carroll, the critically-acclaimed author of Frost Hollow Hall, The Girl Who Walked On Air, In Darkling Wood and The Snow Sister, is a deliciously creepy story inspired by the creation of Frankenstein, and is brought to life by a leading talent in children’s literature.

What did I think?:

Regular visitors to my blog might recall my previous gushing reviews for the wonderful middle grade fiction author that is Emma Carroll. I highly recommend all her work including Frost Hollow Hall, The Girl Who Walked On Air, In Darkling Wood and The Snow Sister and now I’m delighted to recommend another one – Strange Star which was so beautifully Gothic in nature and eerily atmospheric that once more, I was left in awe of the author’s story-telling abilities. Emma Carroll takes notorious figures from our history, the author Mary Shelley and Lord Byron and writes a fantastic fictional account of where Shelley may have got her inspiration for Frankenstein and it was a story that was so utterly compelling I had no problems in finishing it in just two sittings.

It’s a tale at first that is narrated by a young ex-slave called Felix who is working as a servant for Lord Byron and his guests (which include Mary Shelley) at one of their infamous dinner parties where they challenge each other to tell the scariest stories. This evening however, a young girl called Lizzie appears at the door in a terrible state. We end up hearing a whole new and very frightening story from her that involves a tragic event in her past that led to her being blinded by a lightning strike, a scientist who likes to carry out dangerous experiments with electricity and her worries for her younger troublesome sister as they become embroiled in a precarious situation.

This wonderful Victorian story covers so many different themes effortlessly told in Emma Carroll’s distinctive style which never fails to impress. We touch on racism with Felix and his past as a slave, feminism with some of our strong, female protagonists and their choice of careers, grief and loss and also some ethical questions regarding experimentation and how far someone would be willing to bend their morality in the name of science. As a scientist myself, I loved how the author took science and gave it a voice, (especially a female one) and I found these portions of the narrative both intriguing and at times, slightly unnerving. However, it’s all done in an excellent way considering the target audience of this novel and it never felt too much for a younger reader or, on the other hand, “dumbed down” for the age range. What I love most about Emma Carroll is that her stories can easily be read and enjoyed by both adults and children – her writing is intelligent, insightful and in each novel I’ve read so far, challenges the way you might look at the world. I loved every moment and I can’t wait to read her latest tale, Letters From The Lighthouse, coming soon!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

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Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Published May 19, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever.

What did I think?:

Having never read Frankenstein before, I was unsure what to expect, especially after reading some negative reviews, basically stating that it did not live up to the hype. Now I’ve finished, I firmly disagree – I found it a moving, brilliantly composed classic about the dangers of meddling with nature. I would definitely say the story is oceans ahead of its time, (first edition published anonymously in 1818) and sits quite deservedly as the first science fiction novel published.

Victor Frankenstein is a keen student of science, but through his interest and over-enthusiasm for the subject, he ends up creating a grotesque monster (mainly by stealing bits and parts from the local graveyard). After the creature is “born,” he recoils in horror and disgust from what he has done, and flees, leaving his monster to roam free. A couple of years pass, then tragedy strikes as Victor’s brother is savagely murdered, and Victor comes face-to-face with the perp i.e. his creation and demands an explanation. What I didn’t expect at this point, was how much I was drawn in by the creature’s story, and how pitiable his suffering had been. Shelley writes poetically about his struggles to become accepted by society and by a family that he has formed an attachment to by watching them secretly from a hiding place, trying to master their language and learn their customs so that he can “fit in.” Obviously, it ends badly with the family’s outright rejection, and the creature becomes consumed with hatred and revenge, especially towards his creator – (cue multiple tragic events).

The novel isn’t perfect, I didn’t really buy into the eloquence of speech that the monster acquired in such a short space of time, and some parts of Victor’s story when guilt-ridden, he rails against science, himself, the world etc seemed slightly over-dramatic, however as a brilliant and original idea, and as a classic, I don’t think you can fault it.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

WWW Wednesday #2

Published May 15, 2013 by bibliobeth

WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Click on the image to get to her blog!

To join in you need to answer 3 questions..
•What are you currently reading?
•What did you recently finish reading?
•What do you think you’ll read next?

Click on the book covers to take you to a link to find out more!

What are you currently reading?

books

Hmmm… yes, title catch your eye? I’m a big fan of Chinese fiction and the author won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2012 so I thought why not? Started off a bit slow but I’m really getting into it now.

What did you recently finish reading?

13732573

This novel was long-listed for the Man Booker prize and has some great comedy moments although it wasn’t perfect for me personally. Review to follow very shortly!

What do you think you’ll read next?

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This was chosen as part of the “classics” section of my bookclub, I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet but I’m looking forward to it!

Please feel free to leave your WWW Wednesday, happy reading everyone!!