I was lucky enough to see Marcus Sedgwick and Dr Sam George of the University of Hertfordshire battle it out last week as to which book was superior, Frankenstein or Dracula. Both are very entertaining speakers and it was fun.
The reason for the debate was the publication of Sedgwick’s new book, The Monsters We Deserve and naturally enough I picked up a copy on the night. Which I have now finished and been surprised by. It wasn’t quite what I expected. I expected a horror tale, a rewriting of Mary Shelley’s back story about how Frankenstein was written. Instead this book was the tale of a writer (possibly a fictionalised Sedgwick) trying to finish writing a book in a chalet on the Swiss alps, with some suspense, horror and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein thrown in for good measure.
Sedgwick’s writing is excellent, he draws you into the story completely and writes intelligently. The background information of Mary Shelley’s life and her book is fascinating. I loved the gradual build up of uncertainty and the feeling that something is not quite right in the narrator’s chalet, however, Sedgwick then introduces a character which, for me, took away from the potential horror story. The fictional author then spends time talking to this character and here the book felt a little too introspective for me. The message in the book, to be careful of your actions (what you create) because we get the monsters we deserve is interesting and there are many things to ponder on, resulting in a book which is going to stay with me and makes me want to read both the 1818 and 1831 editions of Frankenstein.
Credit should also be given for the cover design, it is very striking and stands out on the shelves. I reckon I have discovered a new writer (to me) and can’t wait to read more of Sedgwick’s books, of which there are many.