Fulton chooses a dramatic event in Mary Shelley’s tumultuous life to illustrate how one of the most famous monsters in the world came to life.
Mary; her fiance, the famous poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; and other friends, including the poet Byron, are gathered at Byron’s villa on the shores of Lake Geneva. As a fearful thunderstorm rages, the conversation turns to the supernatural and the friends’ response to Byron’s challenge that each member of the group should write a ghost story. However, Mary cannot come up with an idea for a story. Two events inspire her. She overhears the men discussing the latest scientific experiments with galvanism, the process of inducing movement in dead creatures. And the opening scene of the novel came to her in a dream, featuring the monster in all his terrifying glory. Fulton gives the story a feminist twist, reminding readers of the influence of Mary’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, whose “stirring words about democracy and the rights of women” spur her daughter to prove that “a woman’s writing could be just as important as a man’s.” Sala’s dramatic watercolor-and-ink illustrations, rendered in a controlled palette of predominately sepia and gray (excellent for limning livid, undead flesh), well-complemented by the classic typeface, evocatively depict the young white woman and the demons that beset her.
An elegant picture book that will signal to young readers that there is more to the story than the familiar green-skinned monster. (Picture book/biography. 7-11)