Two street-smart alley cats steal the spotlight from Dr. Frankenstein and his creation in this amusing, imaginative take on the classic monster tale.
Wilson (Tucker’s Monster, 2010)—the writer behind a number of fantastical films, including Short Circuit (1986) and Tremors (1990)—paints a rich portrait of the German village of Dunkelhaven circa 1810. The guides are Rolf and Hermann, a pair of refined and resourceful felines who unwittingly trigger a series of chance encounters that bring readers deep inside the world of Frankenstein, the maniacal, brilliant young doctor obsessed with returning life to the dead. Desperate to secure transport to a cat-worshipping island, Rolf and Hermann agree to steal Frankenstein’s watch (or “tick-tock,” in animal parlance). The heroes are subsequently present during all the grisly, decisive moments that form the Frankenstein mythos, from the digging up of corpses to the stealing of brains and even the iconic “It’s alive! Alive! Aliiiiiiiiive!” moment of rebirth. In addition to humor stemming from both the tangled plotline and the cats’ refined manners—“I note that we have been wet more than we have been wet in the rest our lives,” Rolf says, to which Hermann responds, “Yes, I want that to be noted”—the novel’s playful self-awareness helps buoy the action. Early on, Wilson informs readers that his version is actually more authentic than Mary Shelley’s original: “A young woman named Mary something, pretending to the title of ‘novelist,’ wrote a different and much embellished version of the story. Since then there have been about a billion books, movies, plays, and comics based upon it. Ours is the true account. Trust us.” The novel carries a similar sense of the whimsical into its vocabulary, which is refreshingly broad, as when the initially carefree cats explore their environs: “As Rolf and Hermann padded comfortably from hedge to rose bush to topiary elephant, a cornucopia of delightful smells flitted around them like olfactory butterflies.” Also, despite targeting a younger demographic, this story maintains an all-ages appeal by not speaking down to its readers.
Like Frankenstein, this novel creates something unique by stitching together odds and ends, then applying a few healthy doses of creative electricity.