Today ends the R.I.P. reading event hosted by Carl@stainlesssteeldroppings. Like always, it’s been a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed my books immensely even though I didn’t read everything I’d planned but that’s fine, there’s always time for that later. I’ve been so caught up in reading that I postponed writing reviews until the last day so I decided to do two mini-reviews for the last two books I read for this challenge.
Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein – The Monsters by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
This book finally provided the motivation to read Frankenstein, so after finishing with Mary Shelley’s famous classic, I dived right into it. If you ever wondered how Frankenstein came to be written and what Mary Shelley’s life was like, this is the perfect book. While the story centers mostly on Mary and on that famous summer night in 1816 that sparked the challenge behind Frankenstein, there’s also plenty of detail about the other participants in the challenge: her then companion and future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and John William Polidori – who went on to write the first vampire novel, The Vampyre.
I’m always fascinated by details from famous writers’ lives and how they find their way into their stories. The authors give plenty of details to show how different elements from Mary Shelley’s life may have contributed to the idea behind Frankenstein – an emotionally detached father, a mother she never knew, the pressure she felt to produce a great literary work (being the daughter of famous writers), the tumultuous relationship she had with Shelley, a scientific experiment she heard about involving electricity, and later on the deaths and tragedies that marked her life. The book abounds in such details and I’m sure I wouldn’t have found them as interesting had I not read Frankenstein first. It also describes her connection with lord Byron (through her step sister Claire), her strained relationship with Claire, and Byron’s rise to fame as “the first celebrity”. It was a time of travel and friendship, of connections and betrayals, of joy fraught with despair and ever present money problems. It was a time that inspired incredible work, not only from Mary but also from the other writers who took part in Byron’s challenge. A great book I’d love to read again.
My rating: 5/5 stars
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs
Let me begin by saying I have never read a book quite like this. The story and the pictures (which I avoided looking at until I started reading so as not to spoil my enjoyment) seemed like the perfect combination to create something special. I loved the first part of the book – the grandfather telling fantastical stories to his young nephew, the incredible and unbelievable details about his life as a young man, his decline and death which started a quest for the truth.
The main protagonist, sixteen-year-old Jacob persuades his father to accompany him on a trip to a desolate island in the hope of finding the house his grandfather talked about in his stories – the monsters he was trying to keep at bay, the bizarre photographs of children he showed Jacob (the peculiars he called them), the “old bird smoking a pipe” who protected the children. And here the story started to lose its spark for me – it wasn’t the time travel, or the strange children with their otherworldly abilities. I’m not sure if I can even pinpoint what exactly it was that threw me off – perhaps the sudden romance between Jacob and Emma, which I felt didn’t really fit with the overall mood of the story. I wanted to know more about the monsters hunting the children and how the children were able to survive in that endless time loop without losing their minds. I wanted Jacob to find a way to live between the two worlds and I felt the story played up a lot on teenager angst and didn’t explore its dark potential to the fullest. But perhaps the answer is in the sequel, which I’d like to read, just to see how the children managed to live in the present and if their special gifts help or hinder them in their new life.
My rating: 3/5 stars
My R.I.P contributions:
I also went over to terribleminds.com and felt inspired to write some flash fiction:
And just like one great event ends, another begins. NaNoWriMo starts in less than two hours and I’ve decided to participate this year as well. If I can manage to stay awake past midnight long enough to get a few hundred words in, that would be great. Last year I had a really great time and wrote a story I really liked, even though The End came a few months later. This year I’ve decided to continue in the same genre, fantasy and horror. What greater way to celebrate Halloween than to write a scary story? I don’t know if the world needs another vampire/wizard story but I know I need to write it. Wish me luck.