Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi LeeThis Monstrous Thing
by Mackenzi Lee
September 22, 2015
384 pages

Goodreads Summary:
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…


This book was full of ups and downs. I'm glad I didn't give up when it felt slow. With time I  grew invested in the story and managed to get behind the thoughts and actions of the characters. This Monstrous Thing was a riveting story with an electrifying atmosphere. The story flawlessly incorporates Frankenstein into its thickening plot.

The book started off painfully slow. After reading the first hundred pages or so I contemplated DNFing it. I had trouble absorbing the story and it didn't seem like it was going anywhere. However once I got past what mostly felt like introductions, the pacing really picked up and I was sucked in. I wonder, after finishing the book, if those first few chapters were intentionally slow to show the dull life led by the protagonist?

Mackenzi Lee's 1818 Geneva was a very dangerous place for Shadow Boys and people with clockwork parts - evidenced by the uncalled for threats and violence they received. The fragile coexistence all but shatters when the story, Frankenstein, gets introduced to the world. Growing restless, the clockwork population began to see Frankenstein's monster as their saviour.  This inevitably led to an uprising. As  things reached a crescendo, chaos broke out, betrayals came to light, sacrifices were made and lives were lost.

Alasdair, the poor boy, cannot catch a break. He loves his brother dearly but he's also suffocating from an overwhelming amount of guilt. From resurrecting Oliver to keeping him alive, Alasdair's torn between doing what's right and what his heart desires. "If you say anything enough, even the truth. it starts to sound like a lie..." (ARC, p.32). I loved following his character growth as one realization hit after another. I also really love his name. It fits so well with the time period and holds this wise and sophisticated air to it. Alasdair <3

The story cut between flashbacks and the present. We got to see  the Oliver that was adventurous and playful versus the caged resentful version now. Instead of a monster, Oliver felt more like a lost boy. The world was a brand new place to him after he came back from the dead. It's only natural that he felt scared and lonely. The malicious attention directed at him forced him to act out. I honestly think his death was a tragedy and no one's fault.

Clémence is a real heroine. She's able to objectively assess most of the situations, be a friend to Alasdair and speak truthfully to him. "You can't make people the way you want them to be... Sometimes you just have to love them how they are." (ARC, p.209). Things would have turned out much worse if not for Clémence - she deserves to be respected!

Dr. Geisler may have been brilliant but he was a mad scientist. Ruthless and creepy, I can't say I feel sorry for the fate he was dealt. I was also secretly hoping a certain inspector would get a lesson but alas that did not happen. I will just have to feel appeased that this inspector didn't get what he wanted either.
Mackenzi Lee expertly weaves together facts and fiction. Despite the slow beginning, I thoroughly enjoyed how the story played out and concluded. Don't shy away from this book because yes This Monstrous Thing is dark but then again, "...humans are, by nature, monstrous." (ARC, p.273).

4 Cats
*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinion are my own and not affected in any way. All quotes were taken from the Advance Review Copy I received.


  1. OOoh nice! I can't wait to read this one! And I positively love that last quote! LOL! Sad, but true! Heehee! Sounds like it's going to be a fun read once I dive into it! Awesome review!

    1. I really hope you'll enjoy this one! Will definitely be watching out for your review ;)

  2. I'm really glad to hear you loved this one so much after a slow beginning! I'll keep it in mind when reading it to make sure I don't give up too easily on it!

    1. I haven't heard of anyone else having the same problem as me so maybe it won't be slow for you. Enjoy Pili~~

  3. So very glad you read and liked this Eileen! I loved the twist and steampunk feel to this retelling, just so much fun!

    1. Me too! I really love how the story was told :D

  4. I really want to read this! It's a pity about the slow beginning but I think I'll disregard that as I LOVE the premise of this book. Wonderful review!

    1. Thank you! I might just be too impatient haha. I hope you love it Kyra :)


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