Book Club Nominees

Frankenstein, and 5 More Books About His Monster

by @l.sheherhersella, curator of HOWLS Book Club nominees for September’s “I Can’t Believe It Is Frankenstein’s Monster!” category

What other “why” would one need than the line: “Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” – Frankenstein, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Mary Shelley’s timeless gothic novel presents the epic battle between man and monster at its greatest literary pitch. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor to the very brink of madness. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship, scientific hubris, and horror. (StoryGraph)


Because she is the mother of science fiction, arguably the mother of body horror, she was a teenager when she wrote Frankenstein, and she continues to have ever farther reaching and never-ending impacts on pop culture, literature, music…everything!

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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her caregiver, and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.


This revisioning, taking a very minor character from Frankenstein and giving her agency, a voice, and making her the main character, is a delightful descent into terrifying horror.

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Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Tsai

Unwieldy Creatures, a biracial, queer, gender-swapped retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, follows the story of three beings who all navigate life from the margins: Plum, a queer biracial Chinese intern at one of the world’s top embryology labs, who runs away from home to openly be with her girlfriend only to be left on her own; Dr. Frank, a queer biracial Indonesian scientist who compromises everything she claims to love in the name of science and ambition when she sets out to procreate without sperm or egg; and Dr. Frank’s nonbinary creation, who, painstakingly brought into the world, is abandoned due to complications at birth that result from a cruel twist of revenge. Plum struggles to determine the limits of her own ambition when Dr. Frank offers her a chance to assist with her next project. How far will Plum go in the name of scientific advancement and what is she willing to risk? (StoryGraph)


Um, because who doesn’t want to read a modern-day, nonbinary revisioning of Frankenstein?! 😃 I’ve been wanting to read this since it was released, and I’ve been fortunate to see Addie Tsai speak at several virtual events–she’s fantastic and absolutely delightful.

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Destroyer by Victor LaValle and illustrated by Dietrich Smith

The legacy of Frankenstein’s monster collides with the sociopolitical tensions of the present-day United States.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein beseeched his creator for love and companionship, but in 2017, the monster has long discarded any notions of peace or inclusion. He has become the Destroyer, his only goal to eliminate the scourge of humanity from the planet. In this goal, he initially finds a willing partner in Dr. Baker, a descendant of the Frankenstein family who has lost her teenage son after an encounter with the police. While two scientists, Percy and Byron, initially believe they’re brought to protect Dr. Baker from the monster, they soon realize they may have to protect the world from the monster and Dr. Baker’s wrath.

Written by lauded novelist Victor LaValle, Destroyer is a harrowing tale exploring the legacies of love, loss, and vengeance placed firmly in the tense atmosphere and current events of the modern-day United States. (StoryGraph)


Frankenstein’s monster and a descendant of the Frankensteins whose son was killed by the police state going on revenge against humanity together? By Victor LaValle? Sign me up!

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Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator by Catherine Reef

On the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, comes a riveting biography of its author, Mary Shelley, whose life reads like a dark gothic novel, filled with scandal, death, drama, and one of the strangest love stories in literary history.

The story of Frankenstein‘s creator is a strange, romantic, and tragic one, as deeply compelling as the novel itself. Mary ran away to Lake Geneva with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley when she was just sixteen. It was there, during a cold and wet summer, that she first imagined her story about a mad scientist who brought a corpse back to life. Success soon followed for Mary, but also great tragedy and misfortune.

Catherine Reef brings this passionate woman, brilliant writer, and forgotten feminist into crisp focus, detailing a life that was remarkable both before and after the publication of her iconic masterpiece. (StoryGraph)


We all think we know who Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is: Author, wrote Frankenstein as a teenager, married to Percy Bysshe Shelley…but what do we really know about her and her life?

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Frankenstein: A Cultural History by Susan Tyler Hitchcock

Frankenstein began as the nightmare of an unwed teenage mother in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1816. At a time when the moral universe was shifting and advances in scientific knowledge promised humans dominion over that which had been God’s alone, Mary Shelley envisioned a story of human presumption and its misbegotten consequences.

Two centuries later, that story is still constantly retold and reinterpreted, from Halloween cartoons to ominous allusions in the public debate, capturing and conveying meaning central to our consciousness today and our concerns for tomorrow. From Victorian musical theater to Boris Karloff with neck bolts, to invocations at the President’s Council on Bioethics, the monster and his myth have inspired everyone from cultural critics to comic book addicts.

This is a lively and eclectic cultural history, illuminated with dozens of pictures and illustrations, and told with skill and humor. Susan Tyler Hitchcock uses film, literature, history, science, and even punk music to help us understand the meaning of this monster made by man. (StoryGraph)


For over 204 years, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein has influenced everything from language to literature to film to pop culture to art to science and on and on. This is a great history that lays out most of her two centuries+ of influence for readers to discover and be marveled by.

Bookshop* | StoryGraph | Goodreads | Amazon 

And The Winner Is…

Out of these six books, HOWLers voted to read the original Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Discussion starts on September 24th, and you can read along by joining the Discord!

*The HOWLS affiliate storefront pays a 10% commission to HOWL Society and gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores

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