This year marks the 200th birthday of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a classic horror novel that was, quite literally, conceived on a dark and stormy night all the way back in 1816.
Shelley, then just 19 years old, was staying at a villa in Switzerland (so glam!), when one of her companions proposed a competition to see who could write the best ghost story. After a particularly horrifying discussion about the science of galvanism – creating life using electricity – Mary had the idea for her most famous novel:
Mary fell into a waking dream in which she saw ‘the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together’ and felt the terror he felt as the hideous corpse he had reanimated with a ‘spark of life’ stood beside his bed, ‘looking on him with yellow, watery, but speculative eyes’. The idea for the novel – and the monster – was finally born.
Since then, the story of Victor Frankenstein and his creature has captured our imaginations. It’s nearly impossible to get through the Halloween season without seeing a green monster with bolts coming out of his neck.
But of course there’s more to the story than that, and we know that curious readers will want to learn more. Here are a few great Frankenstein-inspired books for kids, teens and adults.
Robot Zombie Frankenstein! by Annette Simon – “A madcap mash-up featuring robots, shapes in motley amalgamation, and . . . pie!”
Frankenstein Takes the Cake by Adam Rex – “No one ever said it was easy being a monster. Take Frankenstein, for instance: He just wants to marry his undead bride in peace, but his best man, Dracula, is freaking out about the garlic bread.”
Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey – “The inspiring story of the girl behind one of the greatest novels – and monsters – ever … for fans for picture book biographies such as I Dissent or She Persisted.”
Mary’s Monster by Lita Judge – “A free verse biography of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, featuring over 300 pages of black-and-white watercolor illustrations.”
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel – “When his twin brother falls ill in the family's chateau in the independent republic of Geneva in the eighteenth century, sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein embarks on a dangerous and uncertain quest to create the forbidden Elixir of Life.”
The Madman’s Daughter trilogy by Megan Shepherd – This trilogy is about the supernatural adventures of a young woman, Juliet, with each book based on a classic novel. The third book, A Cold Legacy, is based on Frankenstein.
The New Annotated Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – The full text of Frankenstein with more than 1,000 additional notes and 200 illustrations that provide information and historical context to the book and Mary Shelley’s life.
The Lady and Her Monsters by Rosanne Montillo – “A ... blend of literary history, lore, and early scientific exploration that traces the origins of the greatest horror story of all time.”
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss – The daughters of Gothic horror novels – Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein – team up and discover “a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists.”