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This Monstrous Thing

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,318 ratings  ·  602 reviews
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 fro
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published September 22nd 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books
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George It's of course possible, but Lee's utter failure to mention Poor Things in her Acknowledgements would be an indictment of her honesty if this were mor…moreIt's of course possible, but Lee's utter failure to mention Poor Things in her Acknowledgements would be an indictment of her honesty if this were more than an interesting coincidence.


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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  2,318 ratings  ·  602 reviews

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Wendy Darling
"Have you ever thought...that maybe (he) only acts like a monster because you treat him like one?"

This book seamlessly blends history, gothic mystery, and steampunk into a thoughtful reimagining of the creation of Frankenstein, and it's one of the best YA retellings I've read. The author has clearly done her homework on the time period, as well as the story's literary roots--and beyond that, she makes this story of clockwork men and women, struggling to survive in a world where they are feared a
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved the steampunk elements, the characters, and the ties to Frankenstein. There's also great discussion on some philosophical topics. ...more
Gemma ♕ Bookish Gems
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah Elizabeth
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“Here I was touched by your sacrifice, and come to find out you’re still obsessed with Ingolstadt and studying with the man who killed me.”

This was an interesting YA retelling of Frankenstein, that was still a bit different to the original.

Alasdair was in a difficult position in this book; trying to hide the fact that he had reanimated his brother after his death, whilst
Claude's Bookzone
3.5 Stars rounded up to 4.

Well this was such an interesting reimagining of Frankenstein!

I thought Mackenzi's steampunk makeover of this classic piece of gothic literature was clever and whilst pretty true to the original, had it's own brilliant spin on the macabre tale. It could have done with a bit of a nip and tuck (sorry, not sorry), as I felt the momentum stopped at a couple of points. Overall however, it was an incredibly enjoyable reading experience that followed the themes of dangerous kn
Elle (ellexamines)
“You took my life and Oliver's life and made them into this book. You made us into monsters, both of us.”

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars. Do you ever read books that don't really stand out? That you love while reading, but can't think of anything standout to mention? That's how I felt about this. It's a very solid and well-paced book, it's lacking in romance but strong in friendship, and it's a creative retelling. But there's nothing here that makes me cry with delight, you know? A fun read, but no
Mar 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: anticipated-2015
I spend a lot of time working with the original story, meaning Frankenstein and it grew on me, but this one was not quite as amazing as I had hoped. It was good, mind you. But I am generally not particulary fond of steampunk. The problem with clockwork people, while intriguing, left me very very cold and the turning point of the story that felt rather forced.

I liked the way the author connected the original story with this one via one particular character and I liked Oliver although there was n
Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight)
4 Stars

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. This has not influenced my review.*

I recently reread Frankenstein and, upon finishing, decided I wanted all the retellings. I started with this one, and I'm really glad I got the chance to read it because it was a beautiful, somewhat bittersweet story about brothers and grief and monsters and what it means to be human.

I will admit the pacing was slow and a bit uneven. Something happened near the beginning, then there was a span of the
Faith Simon
This is a rich, steampunk reimagining of Frankenstein. I don't have much experience with steampunk, but after reading this I find I can certainly be a fan of similar works.
I love re-tellings, and this book was no exception. But this one is interesting because rather than re-telling the story itself, it's a reimagining of the circumstances around the story, including real people like Mary Shelley who wrote it. I really liked this and thought it was immensely interesting. We don't often see this
Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Lee's well written, well told debut novel set in a Victorian steampunk era was fascinating and makes one wonder that it is her first novel. With words that are sometimes lyrical and a setting that is every bit as believable and it fantastical, this story really does stick out and jump off the pages.

Having been one that was always fascinated with Dr. Frankenstein and his freakish monster, it was no wonder that when I saw This Monstrous Thing, I didn't hesitate one iota to pick it up and dive rig
I devoured it in one sitting! This one is a really great retelling.
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is not at all my usual kind of read and I enjoyed it so. Much. Did not expect to read it in one sitting but whoops!
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
HUGE thank you to HarperCollins for sending me an ARC of this book!


end of review.


Okay no sorry I lied. I am just OLIVER.

Okay, so this book! I have a little story behind this book. Back when the cover came out (I think I was still in Japan? idk) I was like 'wow, monsters, clockwork men... sounds like my kinda book! (I'm a closet monster/cyborg fan. They're HOT.) and I followed the author on twitter. Then I moved to Boston and I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW SHE LIVES HERE OKAY. I was a
My mind is completely blown. This is such an innovated retelling of Frankenstein that I have ever read. Not only is it filled with such breathtaking details but it's beautiful at it's core. So much emotion takes place as one tows the line of playing GOD and questions what it means to be human.

For the die hard Frankenstein fans out there this is a must have to add to your collection. I truly enjoyed reading This Monstrous Thing. Mackenzi Lee has found a fan in me and I can't wait to read more of
Auntie Terror
3.3 stars. My review is going to be full of pet-peeving, I fear. [Prtf]
Apr 10, 2015 rated it liked it
I was really excited about this book when I first read the synopsis, but as it came closer to the time to read it, that excitement was gone.

I did like the story and the characters. The writing is good and the plot was interesting. It kept me turning the pages, but I wasn't captivated by any part of it.

Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with it, I just couldn't get into the story like I was hoping to.

**Huge thanks to Katherine Tegen and Edelweiss for providing the arc in exchange f
Jessica Cluess
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a weird and wonderful reimagining of the Frankenstein story. In 1818 Geneva, Alasdair has brought his brother, Oliver, back to life with the help of clockwork. Now, with the publication of Frankenstein, their lives get even more complicated. It's so refreshing to have two siblings as the emotional core of a YA fantasy. The writing is fantastic, the clockwork is imaginative, and Alasdair is an intriguing protagonist. You're not completely sure whether to trust him or not. This is a fantas ...more
The Girl Murdered by Her TBR
a frankenstein retelling? oh wow! gonna give this one a try soon-ish???
Aj Sterkel
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Guys, I love this book so much! My first five-star read of 2018. It’s not a mind-blowing, brilliant piece of literature, but that doesn’t matter because I basically inhaled this book. It’s compulsively readable. It kept me awake for most of the night because I had to know how it ended.

Alasdair is a Shadow Boy, a mechanic who builds prosthetic limbs. In 1800s Europe, this is a dangerous profession because people see the fusing of flesh and machine as disgusting and unholy. Alasdair’s family is f
Jul 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
"We're all monsters," I said. "We're all careless and cruel in the end."

3.5 stars

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a huge fan of the classics. On time I tried to read Wuthering Heights and it took me the entire summer to read the first ¾ of the book before I gave up. Granted, that was back when I was in high school and might not have had an appreciation for finer literary works, but still. All this to say that I haven’t read Frankenstein. The closest I’ve come is A Cold Legacy, w
Fonda Lee
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
STEAMPUNK FRANKENSTEIN, PEOPLE! What else do you need to know?!

If you haven't already run out to buy it on those two words alone, let me assure you that this book is so good it hurts. This Monstrous Thing takes the original Mary Shelley story and infuses it with fantastic clockwork and unforgettable characters: the brilliant but guilt-burdened Alasdair, his volatile brother Oliver, and a nuanced and complicated supporting cast, each character with his or her own ambitions and secrets. The book
Jodi Meadows
A steampunk Frankenstein retelling! And definitely a must-read for those looking for books about brothers, and books very light on romance.
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Are you good, or are you clever?

The use of clockwork in humans was considered illegal and taboo in Geneva. Alasdair's family was part of Shadow Boys, a group of individuals secretly helping people by using clockwork mechanism as substitute for those who wanted to function "normally" after sickness or war ravaged a part of their bodies.

On a dreary night in November..

When his brother Oliver died, Alasdair decided to put his knowledge into use by resurrecting Oliver. This decision changed eve
Aug 29, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this steampunk rendition of Frankenstein, but ultimately the story left me as cold as the monster's corpse.

Alasdair Finch is a Shadow Boy. He knows how to use clockwork parts to make mechanical limbs for people. When his brother dies, he does the incredible - he brings Oliver back to life. But Oliver is no longer who he used to be.

Set in an alternate version of nineteenth century Geneva, This Monstrous Thing is loosely inspired on the real-life Mary Shelley and the publication of Fran
Anna Shelby ☕
This is a tale of two brothers struggling in a gothic steampunk era. The one more despicable and monstrous than the other. We follow Alasdair, narrating the story. Having reanimated his dead brother, he now keeps him hidden in a gloomy castle. And Oliver doesn't particularly like it. Being isolated and lonely he stuggles with self-loathing and gnawing self-doubt. Being born into a family of Shadow Boys (manufacturers of clockwork-prostethics) the Finch family has to do their work in secret, due ...more
Jul 03, 2018 added it
Shelves: read-in-2018
hi ignore my old review I no longer feel comfortable supporting this author

(view spoiler)
Paul Decker
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
*I received this book as an eARC from Katherine Tegen Books via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review*

This book was so much more than I expected! I LOVED it! It was heavier than I thought it would be, in subject matter considering I read this on my kindle. It started as a slow read, but I really got into it. The long chapters made me want to make sure I'd finish the whole chapter in one sitting. Between chapters, the book just kept coming up in my thoughts. This book was a thinker.

This boo
McKelle George
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read so many books that I tend not to spam the internet with everything awesome I’m reading, but this is an exception because it’s 1) a particularly awesome book, and 2) written by a particularly awesome person. I have been biding my time. Lying in wait, you might say. Often when you recommend a book that isn’t published yet, people are like, “Oh, yeah, that sounds cool,” but they forget about it because the book won’t be available for months.


This one will be here in a week,
Actual Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Set in Geneva, Switzerland in 1818 (the year when Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was published), This Monstrous Thing explores the question, "What if there was a real-life inspiration behind Frankenstein?". Enter Alasdair Finch, a Shadow Boy who uses machinery to give new limbs to French Revolution and Napoleonic War survivors. However, Alasdair has done the unthinkable: Using his talents, he's brought his older brother Oliver back from the dead - and Oliver is no longer
Even with more and more retellings being released, how could one resist a steampunk Frankenstein? Frankenstein retellings are rare enough, but a steampunk Frankenstein retelling? Heck yes. And I must say, Mackenzie Lee has done an absolutely phenomenal job of building the atmosphere of a steampunk Europe in the 1800s. From the very start, you already feel like you're in Geneva, with its shadowy streets and wintry gloom. There's a prejudice against people with clockwork prosthetics and our protag ...more
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Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Simmons College. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the historical fantasy novels THIS MONSTROUS THING, THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE, which won a 2018 Stonewall Honor Award and the New England Book Award, and its sequel, THE LADY'S GUIDE TO PETTICOATS AND PIRACY, which debuted at #3 ...more

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