Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein: The Legacy of Frankenstein by Emma Newman, Tade Thompson, Paul Meloy, Kaaron Warren, Rose Biggin, David Thomas Moore (Editor) #Spooktasticreads

Wyrd&Wonder

Image credit: Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash

Today I’m reviewing Creatures and I’m including this as my first review as part of Wyrd and Wonder’s Spooktastic event.  Follow the #Spooktasticreads hashtag to pick up other reviews and the like.

CreaturesI’m not shy about telling all and sundry prepared to listen (or too polite to make a hasty departure) that short fiction is not usually my thing.  I don’t know why, other than usually I find that I’m just becoming involved and the conclusion happens.  However, I have also found recently that when a book, short or otherwise, adds to an already developed story, or continues using the original story for inspiration then I enjoy it much more.  Monstrous Little Voices was the first such book that led me down this path of enjoyment (a book that uses Shakespeare for inspiration and where all the short stories are interconnected in some way).  The same can be said for Creatures.

Before I even start this review my immediate thoughts were that I loved the idea behind Frankenstein and his legacy.  This collection of five tales is the perfect way to keep this story thriving in a really original way.  I love the classics but I understand that some people like a more modern style of writing – here you find an updated story that brings a classic into the 21st century.   The stories make their way throughout history beginning around the 1850s (I think) and progressing into the modern day.  All the stories have a different concept and yet all are brought together, not only by the common thread of ‘playing God’ or discovering immortality but by the inclusion of something familiar in each story.  I’ll try not to give away too much in case of spoilers but due to the chronology of the stories and also the way they’re woven together I would suggest that readers tackle this in a straightforward story (unlike most short story collections where you can pick any story at will).  To be clear, I’m not saying you can’t pick and choose at will but I think the stories will be better enjoyed read in the order they’ve been published.

So, we have five tales and undoubtedly readers will like some more than others.  What I really like is that these stories take the work created by Shelley and through the collection bring it uptodate whilst shining a light on some modern nuances that I didn’t expect.

Kaseem’s Way is the start of the collection and harks back to a time in London when grave robbing was not uncommon.  Cadavers were needed for research purposes as demand outweighed supply sometimes gruesome deeds were committed in the name of science.  This is a perfect start to the story with it’s dark feel and fog enshrined streets.  We read of Kaseem and his fascination with anatomy.  He undertakes ‘research’ in secret within the close confines of Newgate Prison.  His benefactor is a doctor at Guy’s Hospital who seeks to make a name for himself and seems to have an interest in the reanimation of the dead.  Meanwhile we meet a character known as Adam.  Adam is full of hate, he’s also full of loneliness and is desperately sad.  On top of that, and quite unfairly, he seems to be slowly dying.  I really enjoyed this story, it contains nods to the original work (although I’m sure I probably missed more than I picked up upon) and it is definitely something of a tragedy.

The New Woman takes us forward in time to 1899 – Christmas time and the last days of the year before a new year and indeed a new era is about to begin.  A group of friends are enjoying Christmas dinner, bohemians one and all, artists, actresses, scientists and like minded.  Their discussion gives rise to the birth of an idea in the minds of one of the guests.  Fran and her partner Christine come up with a way to combine art and science.  Their creation is Eve.  This was a period that was strangely beguiled by the curious and the odd.  Collections of wonders and the like were sought after and Fran and Christine’s ‘creation’ is highly desired to turn what was going to be a wondrous New Year party into, quite possibly, THE event of the year.  This is a tale that starts off as the coming together of two minds to create something beautiful.  Unfortunately, neither of them really expected their idea to come to fruition and didn’t have the first clue what to do when they succeeded.  Ultimately, their creation created a rift where a jealous wedge found a perfect home.  A story that takes a careful look at ‘rights’.  Does the ‘creature’ have rights – should it/she be treated as human or is she simply a ‘thing’.

Reculver.  The third tale is a curious one and takes a slightly different tack.  Set during the Second World War this story is told by a now elderly gentleman as he recounts a period during his youth in which he met two strangers.  One, was Barnes Wallis – who was responsible for inventing the Bouncing Bombs – later known as the Dam Busters.  The other stranger was the one that graces the pages of each of these stories.  This is a tale of violence – and surprisingly during a time of war does not focus on the battlefield.  This is about domestic violence and looking at the monsters who live amongst us.  I was puzzled about the inclusion of Barnes Wallis (although I admit it’s a nice touch) but then I figured he’s the scientist of the story.  As with the other tales there is a recurring theme of sadness and loss  I’m still not quite sure what to make of the ending and think I might need to read it again.

Made Monstrous brings us into the 80s where a slightly jaded detective and his young rookie investigate the stealing of limbs.  This story really gripped me.  I’m not going to give too much away – it’s not a murder mystery because the bodies that are stolen from are already dead, but nonetheless it is a mystery.  At first the jaded detective takes almost a half hearted stance into the mystery of it all until the young policewoman starts to uncover certain similarities that eventually lead the two on a strange mission.  I found this story really gripping.  I wasn’t expecting a police procedural to be included amongst these stories and yet it fits really well.  Again, there are monsters of differing guises included in the story just giving more fuel to the ‘who was really the monster’ discussion.

Love Thee Better.  The final story is all about obsession.  I’m not quite sure when this is set – present day or a near future but it’s all about the way people obsess about their body.  Poor self deception and thinking that the cut of a knife will make things better.  Set aboard a strange cruise ship that never seems to call in at port this is a heady mix of people enjoying themselves quite wildly and with absolute abandon and then almost becoming saturated with it all.  It’s a story of people wanting to lose parts of themselves and others wanting to have those parts.  It’s a very unusual and even a little bit disturbing story of people swapping body parts almost as casually as they would change their hair style – but, there’s more underlying this story.  Dr Firth seems to have a project of his own and it’s quite horrifying.

I really enjoyed this collection.  I would give two provisos.  I don’t think this is supposed to be scary so if you go into it with such expectations then you might be setting yourself up for disappointment – it is however horror, maybe not blood soaked and visceral but horror nonetheless.  That being said I don’t think Frankenstein is a scary story.  I think both are meant to be thought provoking and that brings me to my second suggestion – read these stories with care.  If you race through these you will miss the cleverness that is taking place here.

Overall, I still don’t like short stories – but, when they’re brought together like this, a set of stories that told together make a whole – well, really, it’s a wonderful creation.

I received a copy courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

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Can’t Wait Wednesday : Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein by Emma Newman, Tade Thompson, Paul Meloy, Kaaron Warren , Rose Biggin, David Thomas Moore (Editor)

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Creatures: The Legacy of Frankenstein.  I admit I’m not usually one to pick up anthologies but, firstly, Frankenstein – need I say more?  Secondly a bunch of great writers writing about monsters in the same vein as Shelley’s classic – take my money.  Thirdly, I loved Monstrous Little Voices and I’m half wondering if this will win me over in the same way.  So, read the synopsis and weep because this sounds amazing:

CreaturesA new anthology bringing together five great new and established writers to explore the world of Mary Shelley’s all-time classic, Frankenstein

“My spirit will sleep in peace; or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus. Farewell.”

Victor Frankenstein was the first to unlock the key to life, but he would not be the last. Through two centuries of scientific enquiry and relentless advancement, five more minds found the secret, and five more creatures were made. Five more stories ended in tragedy.

From the 1840s to the modern day, from the race to publish the first anatomy to the desperate search for weapons to win the Second World War, telling the stories of the creatures that never were.

Due for Publication: October 2018

 

Friday Firsts: Planetfall by Emma Newman

FridayFirsts

Friday Firsts is a new meme that runs every Friday over on Tenacious Reader. The idea is to feature the first few sentences/paragraphs of your current book and try and outline your first impressions as a result. This is a quick and easy way to share a snippet of information about your current read and to perhaps tempt others.   This Friday I’m reading :  Planetfall by Emma Newman

 

planetfallEvery time I come down here I think about my mother.  I don’t want to: it just happens.  My brain has decided it’s a critical subroutine that must be executed when the correct variables are in place: (which time = predawn) + (when physical location = beneath the colony) + (when physical act = opening the door to the Masher) run “unpleasant memory of mother #345.”

My hand is pushing the door open and I’m back at my old lab and she’s following me in, her heels clicking on the tiled floor.  I’ve prepped the equipment to run one hour before her arrival so there’s something to show straightaway.  She never was a patient woman.

“Is that a printer?” she asked, and I nodded.  It started then – I know it now that I’m looking back – that tightening of my gut as I dared to hope I might impress her. 

“Yeah.” I smiled.

She didn’t.  “Like the one I have at home?”

“Better.”

“What’s it printing?”

“My latest work.”

She went up to the plasglass and peered through, seeing nothing but a few millimeters of tissue.  She turned to me with her nose slightly wrinkled. “What is is printing?”

“A new pancreas,” I said.  “For Dad.”

“Oh.”  She’d hoped I was making something she could hang up in the hallway of her inert home.  “I didn’t realise you were involved in this sort of thing.  I’ve seen it on the new.”

And that was the moment I knew I’d been stupid to hope for anything.

My First Impressions

Well, there’s not really much given away here is there?  It’s a memory, although clearly of a future that is more advanced than ours – if you can print out a pancreas – or is that already possible??!?!  I think my immediate fear was on reading the little algebraic type problem in brackets I wondered if this was going to maybe be a little bit more problematic than I hoped (in terms of going over my rather simple head).  However, it’s not working out like that so far so we’ll see and I must confess that on typing out this quote and rereading it for accuracy I completely understand what it means but in the immediate furore of starting a new book and rushing through the first few pages it did fly over my head.  Silly, I realise.  Anyway, so far so good.

What you reading this Friday??  What are your first impressions??

*The above excerpt was taken from an advanced reader copy and it is possible that the final version may have further changes.

All Good Things (The Split Worlds #5) by Emma Newman

allAll Good things is the final instalment in Emma Newman’s split world series.  I must admit that I had my concerns about exactly how this would all conclude but I feel that Ms Newman has pulled out all the stops to give her readers a satisfactory ending to this story.  If you haven’t read the previous books in the series be aware that spoilers will be lurking below.

As the story begins we have a scenario where Cathy has finally escaped from her husband Will and is staying under the protection of Sam (Lord Iron).  It may grate on her a little to need Sam’s help in this way but his property is protected and Will cannot find her while she remains there, on top of this Bea, the powerful sorceress who we learned of in the last book, is also staying at Sam’s and has offered to help Cathy to learn some basic magic so that she can rely on herself – however, in return she does expect Cathy to help persuade Sam to assist with her plan to change the Nether forever.

Meanwhile, back in the Nether, Will is desperate to find Cathy.  His family have become super powerful but his status is far from secure.  If it becomes apparent that his wife has deserted him he will be forced to give up his position and his patron will be very displeased.

Finally, Rupert, the only Sorcerer now left, is making plans to retaliate against Bea.  Using Max and the gargoyle to assist him he’s come up with a cunning plan although he’s perhaps being a little less than truthful about the impact his plans will have on others.

So, there are a number of things going on here and the story really does move along at a fast click. In fact in that respect it’s quite a step out of character from the previous instalments which felt like they had a softer, more character driven approach.  In fact one of my only criticisms is that the book had an almost rushed approach.  I think it probably could have been easily extended and in fact that would have helped to retain the feel of the previous books.  As it is it feels a little like the author wanted to bring this to a conclusion and so there was almost a sense of urgency to the read.  I’m not saying that it spoiled the read at all but it just felt a little different in style than the other books in the series.

What I really enjoyed about this was the sense of completion in terms of a number of the characters.

Cathy, who has struggled with a way to bring equality to the Nether society finally seems to come to terms with the fact that she will probably never succeed – or at least she might set the ball rolling but no obvious differences are likely to occur in her lifetime.  She needs a different approach and she comes up with a very radical solution.  One that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and will involve a lot of upheaval but nonetheless a solution.  I felt that Cathy’s character really developed.  She is much more determined and even though she has doubts she’s confident enough to push ahead with her plans.

Will – well, I kept hoping that Will was just misguided, or foolish.  He had moments where he almost redeemed himself but basically they were all fairly shallow gestures in the end.  I’m not going to elaborate on what happens to Will here other than to say that he becomes a lot more involved with the fae and once again makes the mistake of trying to make decisions for Cathy.  He is so misguided!

Sam is coming to terms with his role in the world as Lord Iron and is trying to make reparations for the damage caused to the environment by his predecessors.  In a way he doesn’t really play too large a role in this book other than being a supporting character for Cathy.

Max and the gargoyle, who are a great double act, have really come along.  Max is finally coming to terms with the horror of what really happened to him and with the gargoyle as his emotional barometer is becoming a lot more sympathetic. I loved this pair of characters and thought their concluding storyline was great.

The only disappointment in terms of the characters was Lucy.  I’m not going to give away any spoilers but I couldn’t really get my head around what happened in terms of her.  It just didn’t sit right for me somehow or was simply too much.

However, in spite of a couple of niggles I really did think that this was a very good conclusion to the story.  Ms Newman has managed to find an ending that I would never have guessed, she solves a couple of puzzles along the way and although she ties up a lot of loose ends she even leaves the tantalising possibility for a return to some of the characters from this series.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Waiting on Wednesday: Brother’s Ruin (Industrial Magic #1) by Emma Newman

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme created by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  My book this week is : Brother’s Ruin (Industrial Magic #1) by Emma Newman

brothers-ruinThe year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Archie’s life and their own livelihoods.

But Archie Gunn isn’t a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect. However, maintaining the charade will mean masquerading as Archie’s assistant, and delaying or destroying her own plans for marriage.

When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city.

Oh yes, colour me happy.  Emma Newman, gaslight fantasy, nefarious plots!  Sign me up.

Due for release from Tor in May 2017

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