By Dave Zeltserman
Duckworth Overlook, 2013
We learn here that Mary Shelley’s novel was a fiction and a fabrication, Victor Frankenstein an unreliable narrator, to put it kindly.
This is the true account, the story coming right out of the monster’s own mouth, a monster whose brain carries the memories and consciousness of one Friedrich Hoffman.
And it has to be said that Victor Frankenstein doesn’t come out of it terribly well. The (self-styled?) Modern Prometheus is revealed to be an alchemist and an occultist, a bully and a coward, a libertine (protégé of the Divine Marquis, no less) and a probable murderer. All in all, he’s a nasty, contemptible piece of work. Friedrich Hoffman is cast as an outcast, a wanderer and an avenger whose route towards payback takes in encounters with various Gothic grotesqueries: vampyres, werewolves, devil-worshippers, pseudo-Satanists (a la the Hellfire Club) and maybe even Dracula himself.
I would query some of Mr. Hoffman’s diction (where did he come across words such as ‘snuck’ and ‘surreal’?) but in the main this is an engrossing, highly entertaining novel. Think of what makes for a happy day: pleasurable immersion in the moment and coiled anticipation of what is to come. That’s how you feel reading this novel. Dave Zeltserman is a monster storyteller.
The publisher’s description of Monster can be read here.