By Chris Priestley
Expected publication August 30, 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing
The second of two Frankenstein retellings/twists that I picked up at ALA, this one takes a different path. Here we have an expanded version of Frankenstein's monster's (here called Mister Creecher) story. Creecher encounters Billy, a street urchin, in London and together they follow Frankenstein and Clerval as Creecher waits for Frankenstein to fulfill his promise - to build Creecher a mate. This book very much reminded me of Shelley's original - and that is not a good thing for me. I was so bored reading this - honestly, I'm surprised I kept reading. I think I felt obligated to do so, even though I was not enjoying it. Not enough was happening in the book to keep me interested. But the book's biggest flaw is its lack of characterization. This book is nearly 400 pages - and I don't know or care about any of its characters, including the "hero" Billy. Sure, we learn some facts about Billy's life - he's an orphan turned thief, etc. But other than that, we are left to fill in the blanks with our stereotypical idea of a turn of the century London street boy. It just doesn't work for me. Additionally, Priestley peppers the story with some secondary characters who are supposed to be sly references - why, look! There's Mary and Percy Shelley themselves, visiting London and bumping into Billy! And here we have Mr. Browning, owner of a traveling freak show which includes one Mr. Bradbury, the illustrated man. Normally, I would love this kind of thing. Here it felt hokey and ridiculous. I felt like Priestley thought he was being really clever and it bothered the crap out of me. This novel failed where Oppel's novel had succeeded.
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.