Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Short-ish: "Monster" by Dave Zeltersman

Short-ish: Monster by Dave Zeltersman, 2012, 9781590208601.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. Told from the perspective of Frankenstein's monster who says Frankenstein (Franky) was a liar and a horrible, horrible person.

Friedrich Hoffman is a German apothecary and engaged to his employer's niece. Friedrich and Johanna are having a chaste engagement and deeply in love. Friedrich goes out for beer one night, passes out in an alley, and is woken by an angry mob. Friedrich is covered in blood and has Johanna's locket in his pocket. Friedrich's fiancee has been horribly murdered and Friedrich gets the blame and is tortured to death.

Friedrich wakes up with blurry vision and the voice of a man calling him "my pet". Friedrich is unable to move his body and slowly learns over months of recovery that his brain has been transferred into a monstrous, 8-foot-tall body. He is in a laboratory and Dr. Frankenstein comes in every night to inspect his surgical wounds, massage his body, and chant over him.

Friedrich's laboratory companion is a woman's head in a bowl. Her teeth have been removed and the head sits in a bowl of white liquid. Freidrich is strapped to a lab table that Franky periodically raises so that Friedrich's blood can flow. Friedrich's vision returns Miss-Head-in-a-Bowl starts mouthing words at him. Miss-Head-in-a-Bowl was murdered by Franky and is kept alive in the bowl. They become friends

Many things happen. Franky is in league with the Marquis de Sade. Friedrich is abandoned in the laboratory when Franky flees trouble. Friedrich wanders the German forests and has adventures. Friedrich finds Franky but is unable to kill Franky because of the spell Franky placed on Friedrich.

Most of the book is a narration by Friedrich with some dialogue among characters. Friedrich has to adjust to his new circumstances and worries over whether he has a soul. He also ponders whether his memories are his own; Franky invented a new body so maybe Friedrich's memories are also invented by Franky.

Friedrich was a decent dude as a person and is disgusted in acting out under Franky's spell. Frankenstein promises to take Johanna's brain and put it in a new body. Franky forces Friedrich to select one young woman from a group of captives as the new host body. Friedrich's own desire to have Johanna return helps him rationalize his decision to accept Frankenstein's offer.

1 comment:

Jerry House said...

Zeltersman is one of those authors who is undeservedly under a lot of reader's eyes. Always a treat.