In the year 1818, Alasdair Finch lives in a world where men have mechanical parts and live hidden away with only Shadow Boys, illegal mechanics, to care for them. When his older brother Oliver dies, Alasdair uses his knowledge to bring him back to life but the Oliver that returns is different, more of a monster than the brother Alasdair remembers. It seems like an impossible task to repair their relationship and keep Oliver safe from a town that already fears and hates Clockwork people but then the novel Frankenstein is published and Alasdair knows they’ll be lucky to make it out of Geneva alive.
October always puts me in the mood for creepy reads and this one seemed perfect for that. I love Frankenstein, historical settings, brotherly relationships, re-tellings, and this book promised all of that. And I got it.
Alasdair was a character that I could really emphasize with as all he wanted was to have his brother back. He wanted his family to be happy and whole and he was at least going to try to use his knowledge to bring Oliver back. He was getting constant pressure from his parents to be better and was living with so many huge secrets that it was surprising he never just snapped. He was really smart and likely could have gone on to do anything he wanted but his sense of family, duty, and guilt kept him in Geneva with his parents and hiding his brother.
The relationships in the book were absolutely fascinating. The main focus was the relationship between Alasdair and Oliver, comparing how they were before Oliver’s death and now that he had been brought back. There was so much anger, resentment, guilt, and fear but under it all was also the love that was so present in the flashbacks. There was the interesting relationship between Alasdair and Geisler, who was Oliver’s mentor and now offering to be one to Alasdair. He seemed to be keeping secrets and I never trusted him but I was hoping he was good for Alasdair’s sake. Another favourite was the developing friendship and maybe more between Alasdair and Geisler’s assistant Clemence.
The writing and setting were both dark, as was expected from reading the synopsis. It fit the overall story very well and the world that was created was interesting and a little scary. I really liked how Lee showed the different ways other cities outside Geneva reacted to the Clockwork Men and Shadow Boys, not everyone looked at them with disgust and fear, and how easily a small group full of fear and hate can latch onto something, in this case Frankenstein, for a reason why their views were right the whole time, and infect so many more people.
The action wasn’t fast-paced through the whole book but that didn’t make it slow or boring. There was the mystery of who had written Frankenstein, what was Geisler hiding, what was Alasdair hiding, what would Alasdair do with Oliver. So many questions that had to be answered along with the action scenes. It made for a fast and very enjoyable read.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.