Creatures - The Legacy of Frankenstein edited by David Thomas Moore
Publisher – Abaddon Books
Price - £11.99 paperback £4.99 Kindle
Published – Out Now
Victor Frankenstein is the first to unlock the key to life, but not the last. Over two centuries of relentless advancement, five more minds find the secret, and five more creatures are made.
Five more stories end in tragedy.
From the stinking streets of 1850s London to the sun-drenched hysteria of a modern cruise liner, amidst passion, jealousy, art obsession, desperation and war, Creatures is a hidden history of forbidden science
I finally read Frankenstein a few weeks ago (here) and was really impressed by how the story was much more about the consequences of a scientist not taking responsibility for his actions than being too engrossed in the science of reanimation. I noted at the time that by skirting around as to exactly how the creature/Adam was created it meant the story had never dated itself and that I thought this was one reason it’s been continually remade. Last year I reviewed Dracula – Rise of the Beast that filled in a number of gaps in the story of our favourite vampire (voila) and now David Thomas Moore has pulled together five very different horror tales exploring a number of facets of the original story.
Kaseem’s Way by Tade Thompson
Nearly fifty years after Frankenstein’s experiments in Europe two medical students are hired to explore the mysteries of his papers. Based in Newgate Prison the two prisoners soon have a constant supply of ‘material’ to experiment upon, but their work soon attracts the attention of another more powerful foe. This is a very strong opener paying close attention to the original story but also giving us an insight in to the nastier elements of Victorian England not just the use of the freshly executed but the inequalities of a society from how exceptionally talented medical students are being overlooked for not being white and the poorer elements of society their stalker has moved into.
The New Woman by Rose Biggin
In 1899 a group of bohemians gather to celebrate Christmas and the incoming new century. A promising medical student and her lover a sculptor suddenly see how their two passions of art and medicine when combined could create a whole new work of beauty. This story looks more at the passions driving the creators and as with the original story the creation of a new life ends up destroying their love. I really like how in this story the bohemian style gives this a eerie nightmarish atmosphere so strong you can taste the absinthe.
Reculver by Paul Meloy
This story moves to England’s south coast and while there are mysterious aircraft experiments that will shape the future of World War 2. A young teenager starts to realise that love can easily lead to destruction. This is a more a story of growing up and finding the secrets that often hide in plain sight. It calls to mind the savage destruction arising from that the original story told but a reminder that humans are often the worst monsters. In some ways the loosest connection to the main story it’s a fine haunting tale.
Made Monstrous by Emma Newman
In 1980 a grave is disturbed, and the corpse’s arm is disturbed. A police detective gets slowly embroiled into a tale of many missing body parts…now why would this be happening? As well as the obvious Newman gives us a story with intriguing characters all with their own secrets. As well as an intriguing mystery this one looks at the power of revenge and with its exploration of how powerful men treat women it creates an interesting contrast to the original story where the female characters were all poorly served by their male counterparts.
Love Thee Better by Kaaron Warren
The final story in the set appears to be a simple story of a young couple going on a cruise and then it gets stranger and darker. The husband Declan lost his arm in an accident and on this cruise ship (provided you are willing to pay) medical miracles can occur. The story takes stranger darker turns exploring our obsession with beauty and the lengths the powerful will go for it. Its haunting and unsettling which is one of the finest tributes to Shelley’s story you can have!
I loved how this collection highlights each theme within the original story but at the same time the writers are weaving more modern themes into each tale over the two hundred years they cover. The only niggle is that the first three stories all seem to be building towards a greater arc but then the stories move in a very different direction. Despite that turn of events I think this a is a very strong anthology where the stories both celebrate Shelley’s tale which like its most famous character will be haunting us for years to come.