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Angelmonster Hardcover – May 9, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–This enthralling novel delves into the life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley during her tempestuous relationship with Percy Bysshe Shelley and explores the basis for writing Frankenstein. While many readers may have heard of the novel, most will be unaware of the underlying theological and philosophical issues with which the author wrestled. Shelley's parents were progressive thinkers, and she was raised to participate in intelligent debate with the poets, novelists, and philosophers of the day. When she was 16, she had an affair with Percy, who was married. Her stepsister accompanied them to Europe, thus beginning a convoluted set of affairs with poet Lord Byron and his friends. The Shelleys faced many tragedies, and both struggled with depression and night terrors. However, the author portrays a great love between them that makes the story as much a romance as a psychological tale. Bennett takes liberty with a couple of events, including when and under what circumstances Frankenstein was written, but, ultimately, readers won't mind. Much as Laurie Halse Anderson does in Speak (Farrar, 1999), the author grabs readers and takes them on a believable journey into a psyche beset with demons.–Cheri Dobbs, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 10-12. It's not hard to see why British novelist Bennett, whose work has never previously been published in the U.S., was moved to build a novel around Mary Shelley's scandalous life, beginning with Mary's seduction at 16 by married Romantic poet Percy Shelley, and concluding with her completion of Frankenstein. Though never graphic, the plot is both racy and dramatic, incorporating a subsequent, devastating affair between Percy Shelley and Mary's stepsister, suicides, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and the deaths of three of her four children. Many YAs will recognize the novel's themes of passion and disillusionment, although some readers' attention may flag as the impulsive teen "drowning in love" transforms into a melancholy, bereaved mother and driven writer. In the end, Bennett's insightful telling will probably be most appreciated by those fresh from classroom studies of Frankenstein. Have nonfiction resources ready, though, because the novel lacks an endnote to clear up lingering questions--e.g., Did Mary really make a memento of the dead Percy's half-charred heart, "snatched from his funeral pyre"? Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; First Edition edition (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763629944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763629946
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,432,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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No happy ending for Angelmonster.
Amazon Customer
This book is so gripping that I stayed up until one in the morning to finish it.
The Figment Review
Definitely an interesting read for sure & highly recommend.
L. A. Vitale

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John C. Wiegard VINE VOICE on July 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a well done historical novel for young adults which focuses on the passionate but troubled real life of Mary Shelley. Bennett does not sugarcoat the suffering and social exile that resulted from Mary's love affair (and later, marriage) to Percy Shelley, the scandalous atheist, radical, and poet. We see, however, how Mary harnessed the many demons of her life to create a timeless masterpiece, the novel Frankenstein. Funny that in her lifetime she would be thought of as the wife of that scandalous poet, and now he is discussed as the husband of the brilliant author.

This novel is perhaps best for middle to upper teens, as the subject matter is a bit mature and hard to understand for younger readers. At points, the writing is memorable in re-creating the wild passions and obsessions of Shelleys. portraying them as rebelling against the traditions and dogmas of their time but never quite managing to forge a workable moral code of their own. It is essentially about a beautiful but imperfect love affair, but is also a fascinating portrait of perhaps the first truly modern woman.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm a grad student in literature, and I've studied Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein many times. I looked forward to reading this book because I liked the idea of a fictionalized history of Mary and Percy's "courtship" and marriage.

*Some degree of spoilers ahead*

I was greatly disappointed. Without spoiling the book too much, I felt that it cheated Mary Shelley. Veronica Bennett drastically changes the timeline of Shelley's life in order to use Frankenstein as an allegory of the Shelley marriage. Their marriage was sensational enough--there was no need to make the drastic changes Bennett makes in this novel. All in all, I felt these changes diminished Mary Shelley as artist and intellectual. According to the introduction to one of my copies of Frankenstein (the Norton Critical Edition, 2nd edition), in the years that she took to write the novel, she read nearly 100 books a year--in many different languages. Bennett makes only passing mention of Mary Shelley reading--and then it's just "horrid" novels like Gothics. (Which she may have actually read. That's not what bothers me. Bennett thoroughly ignores the fact that Mary Shelley also read philosophical texts and was well versed in all of the major thinkers of her time.) In this novel, her stepsister reads Jane Austen, but she does not.

Bennett completely cuts out all evidence of Mary Shelley's intellect and diminishes her accomplishments as a writer.

I don't mind the idea of fictionalizing the life of a famous person, but in this book, Veronica Bennett has reduced Mary Shelley and made her a far less interesting person.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. A. Vitale on June 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
which captures our attention & imagination right from the start! I couldn't put this book down and read it in 2 days. I truly enjoyed this work work of fiction... It is more of a historical romance using historical figures from the past (mainly Mary & Percy Shelley) and interweaving fictionalized events/interactions between them.

I was amazed at how much of the novel paralleled Mary & Percy Shelly's real life events..... This book is written from Mary Shelley's perspective and one truly feels as if one were reading Mary Shelly's personal memoirs, diaries, or letters on the events going in her life and how she may have felt about all that was going on in her life. Definitely an interesting read for sure & highly recommend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Figment Review on December 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
By Kinsey

I'd like to start by saying WOW, what a story. I stumbled upon this by chance at a 5-below store in my area for a dollar, and I thought, "Huh. A book about Mary Shelley? Why not?"

It was all I hoped it would be and more. This is a historical fiction recounting of Mary Shelley's rather troubled young life. Historical fiction is not a genre I tend to gravitate towards, but Mary Shelley is one of the most famous and well-known horror writers ever, so I decided to give it a shot, and I was totally astounded.

Mary is a rebellious sixteen year old girl, playing host to several fantasies with her stepsister: flirting with a nobleman or two, plotting marriages, and heck--perhaps even wooing the affections of a dashing young poet! Mary teaches Jane, her stepsister, all she knows about the art of flirtations. After all, the lessons and discomfort that courtship entails could one day pay off!

And indeed it does when Mary happens to be in her father's shop one day when a very interesting man comes calling. Just as Mary imagined, it's a poet, Percy Shelley! Despite his other marital agreements, Shelley is quite taken with Mary, and whisks Mary and Jane away--to her father and stepmother's great displeasure--to Europe, where they live in secret happiness.

The happiness, however, does not last, and Angelmonster becomes a chilling tale colored by Jane, Mary, and Shelley's distress. Readers follow the trio throughout Europe as they run from rumors, despair, and lost passion, and as they struggle to find trust, happiness, and a family together.

On the trip, Mary learns of an alchemist whose fanciful belief in making life from death inspires the now-famous novel, Frankenstein.
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