I think the original Frankenstein is a brilliant work of literature.  Nearly 200 years later and it still causes nightmares and engenders philosophical discussions, not to mention dozens of films.  And it inspires “revisionist” works such as this.

Monster is from the first-person perspective of the “creature”, Dr. Victor Frankstein’s monster.  The inner thoughts (the brain) of the creature are from Friedrich Hoffmann, a man who was falsely accused then brutally executed for the murder of his bride-to-be.  Friedrich’s memories, and mental anguish, remain.  He vows to take vengeance on behalf of himself, his beloved’s, and everyone’s lives that the maniacal Frankenstein has ruined.

The initial idea is interesting, but it loses focus quickly.  Rather than following the original story and adding fresh perspective, the creature can speak from the get go and has complex thoughts.  He travels the countryside encountering devil worshipers and an accused witch, but no blind man in a cabin.  The slight acknowledgement there is (Captain Walton, Elizabeth) seems to be done reluctantly and half-heartedly.  While I didn’t expect those scenes to be in there, I thought there would be references — an occasional wink to Shelley’s story.

Portrait of Mary Shelley

The writing itself is somewhat simplistic and repetitive.  In some cases it seems like he copied and pasted a paragraph from a few pages previous.  This does nothing to enhance the storytelling, and only further annoys the reader.

Additionally, the writer seems to rely upon gory details to create horror.  He seems to forget that the horror comes from psychological entrapment, not from bloody stumps and descriptions of Satanic rituals.  The attempts at expressing Hoffmann’s feelings of being trapped are weak and almost incoherent.  Instead, the writer falls back on salacious descriptions of severed heads and deviant parties — which do not lend any credence.

A still from “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” — The character is known as Jan in a Pan

The book falls somewhere in the cracks between modern revisionist and schlock.  There are two — count ’em, two! — Jans-in-a-Pan in this Sodom and Gommorah of Frankenstein’s creation.  But for some reason the writer didn’t embrace either campy horror or serious literature.

The result is a bit of a messy experiment, stitched together from random parts that do not quite create a coherent whole.

Many thanks to the folks at Overlook Press for sending me a review copy.
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ISBN 13: 978-1-59020-860-1
Trim Size: 5 3/8 x 8
Hardcover
222 Pages

One thought on “REVIEW: MONSTER by Dave Zeltserman”

  1. I’m not a huge fan of revisionist books, modern sequels, spin-offs, etc. I haven’t read Dracula yet so I think I would just stick to the original. Great review!

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