The Monsters We Deserve

‘Do monsters always stay in the book where they were born? Are they content to live out their lives on paper, and never step foot into the real world?’

The Villa Diodati, on the shore of Lake Geneva, 1816: the Year without Summer. As Byron, Polidori, and Mr and Mrs Shelley shelter from the unexpected weather, old ghost stories are read and new ghost stories imagined. Born by the twin brain of the Shelleys is Frankenstein, one of the most influential tales of horror of all time.

In a remote mountain house, high in the French Alps, an author broods on Shelley’s creation. Reality and perception merge, fuelled by poisoned thoughts. Men make monsters; but who really creates who? A book about reason, the imagination, and the creative act of reading and writing. Marcus Sedgwick’s ghostly, menacing novel celebrates the legacy of Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Sometimes a book comes along that totally blows your mind. A book whose cherished words fill your head with dreams, words coming alive by the power of the words on the page. This book is one of them. It’s a soaring masterpiece that allows you to disappear within its covers to a land you feel the pain, the cold and the crackling atmosphere that the author creates.

There are very few writers whose choice of words makes me tingle, but Marcus Sedgwick is one of them. I’ve read his books since the Book of the Dead Days. Each book is so well crafted, both in appearance and it’s content. ‘The Monsters We Deserve’ is probably his best, a book that examines our monsters and demons, and as writers holds us responsible for the monsters we create, for they are what haunts us.

‘Do monsters always stay in the book where they are born? Are they content to live their lives out on paper and never set foot into the real world?

It’s a book I’d wished I’d read when we did Frankenstein at school. It brought life to me the story we laboriously dissected in class. Bringing back to life Mary Shelley, Victor Frankenstein and of course their creation helped me understand more about the book than GCSE English ever will. The book beautifully presented with sketches and appropriate graphics enhanced the experience of reading. At first I thought I’d read a little bit, yet before long I was drawn into the chalet in the alps with all the characters. I felt unease in my body and mind as something didn’t feel quite right. I felt the cold and rawness of the air yet I didn’t want to stop reading. The book consumed me, leaving me curled up on the settee pulling a blanket over me even though it was warm and sunny outside.

I finished the book within twenty four hours, not wanting to be pulled away for long from it’s crisp white pages. At the end I was drained, like a husk at the side of a road. It had been an extraordinary journey, one I’m glad I took. The characters and the location were as one. Marcus manages to play with my head whilst reading this. It’s seems he’s pulling my strings almost as much as Shelley was playing with his.

Can’t say anymore than this book is a work or art. It is wonderful, sublime, chilling. This has to be top book I’ve read this year. Now I see the paperback is out, it’s equally as beautiful to look at. I might be tempted to buy just for the black against white effect on the shelf. Please buy this book, you will never regret it.

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