This Monstrous Thing

This Monstrous Thing

Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Source: Purchased
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Summary from Goodreads: 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 picked up this book after hearing Mackenzi Lee talk about it at Boston Teen Author Festival. At the event Mackenzi described the book as a steampunk Frankenstein retelling that was unique because Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, is a character in the book. Listening to how excited Mackenzi was about her book and the way she described it, I expected to be swept away to 1818 Geneva into a mysterious place where people had clockwork body parts.

Unfortunately, I found the world building to be lacking, I never felt pulled into 1818 Geneva. I also felt like the steampunk aspect could have been given more attention, but it just kind of felt like there was an expectation that the reader was already familiar with steampunk and would fill in the gaps of the descriptions.

The characters were OK. They were consistent and flawed, but not particularly well developed. The plot moved at a somewhat slow pace. There wasn't enough action for me, it felt a little ho-hum at times. There is a great deal of hinting toward a secret and an eventual big reveal, but unfortunately when the big reveal came, it was pretty predictable. There were a few surprises, but nothing spectacular.

All that being said, I ultimately felt like this book had a lot of potential but fell a little short. I enjoyed it, but likely wouldn't pick it up again.


  1. Oh no! I'd thought this one sounded good. Maybe it's better that I ended up skipping my egalley of it in order to finish other books I had. Great review, will keep this on a maybe list.

    1. you might like it, so I'd say if you have time to get to it, then give it a shot, but I wouldn't prioritize it

  2. Interesting! I enjoyed this one but I do see all your points mentioned. I'm not sure I'd reread but I found it good the first time around. I agree the mechanics could have been delved into deeper (though I'm afraid I might have found that a tad boring?)

    1. I think I struggled to visualize the mechanics and would have liked just a little more detail.


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