A strong, serviceable entry in the Barnard Biography series, aimed at readers older than the audience for Calvin Craig Miller's Spirit Like a Storm (1996). The details of Mary Shelley's life are made accessible to readers, opening on her teenage fascination with graveyards and moving relatively soon to her love, at age 16, for the beautiful, married young atheist and poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Nichols deftly untangles the very complicated emotional and familial relationships of both Mary and Percy; she doesn't mince words in noting other attachments; and she isn't kind to Percy, who abandoned his young, pregnant wife for Mary, and who was perhaps not the angel to Mary he might have been. Miller's book is better at chronicling Mary's intense intellectual life, but Nichols uses the actual words of Mary, Percy, and others of their circle to quicken the story. The language is occasionally repetitious and overwrought, perhaps suitably so in descriptions of, for example, the storms that surrounded Mary's birth, the deaths of her children, Percy's death, and the formation of Frankenstein's monster in Mary's mind.