Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Pride and Prejudice Sequel, Science Fiction
TIME FRAME: Begins 13 years after the close of Pride and Prejudice
MAIN CHARACTERS: Mary Bennet, Kitty Bennet, Victor Frankenstein, Henry Clerval, the Creature
A retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and a continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice blended together as one. Pride and Prometheus picks up with the Bennet family (which consists of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their two unmarried daughters, Mary and Kitty) traveling to various locations such as Lyme and London. It appears Mrs. Bennet is still determined to marry off her remaining daughters! In London, Mary crosses paths with a brooding and brilliant young man by the name of Victor Frankenstein. Because of her own interest in natural sciences and the intellectual conversations they share, Mary finds herself drawn to Mr. Frankenstein. But what happens when she fully knows and understands the true extent of his work and mission…
SHAMEFUL CONFESSION: I’ve never read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein! So I went into this read with only rough understanding of Frankenstein from plot synopses I read online.
WHAT I LOVED:
- Intriguing Premise: I was on the fence about reading this book, both because I haven’t read Frankenstein and because I don’t usually gravitate towards science-fiction/paranormal reads. But I was intrigued that this story – unlike other paranormal mash-ups that add zombies and vampires – blended two literary classics together. Also, the fact that it focuses primarily on Mary Bennet was a big draw for me. I always love seeing Mary become the heroine of her own tale.
- Mary Bennet: It has been thirteen years since the Netherfield Ball and still Mary marks it as a turning point in her life. I admired so much of Mary’s character in this story – her self-awareness, her modified behavior, her interest in fossils, her romantic ideals, and her devotion to Kitty. Even after spending so long as an unmarried, dependent daughter, I appreciated how Mary still weighed her options and questioned what kind of relationship/future she wants for herself. I also loved Mary’s strength and courage which continue to grow and develop as this story progresses.
- And Kitty Too!: Not only do we see a spotlight on Mary in this story, but we see more of Kitty as well, and their relationship together. While Kitty has not made as admirable a transformation as Mary (she is still a bit self-absorbed and heedless), I appreciated the developments in her story and enjoyed seeing her closer relationship with Mary. Although, part of me finds some of her actions almost a little bit of a stretch.
- Multiple Point-of-Views: I love that this story was told from three perspectives all together – Mary Bennet, Victor Frankenstein, and the Creature. I enjoyed seeing the internal thoughts and feelings of each character, and I appreciated how the multiple angles of the story led to a better understanding of each character’s different view of the world. I especially enjoyed seeing the Creature’s point-of-view. While Victor Frankenstein vows his creation is an evil, murderous abomination, I felt differently about him. His despair, loneliness, and pain garnered my sympathy and compassion.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
- Not Quite the Ending I Was Hoping For: SPOILER ALERT! While I appreciated how the ending tied up and fit neatly within the framework of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, I was left feeling a little dispirited for our main characters. I wished it all turned out better or happier. However, I can understand wanting to remain true to the events and plot of Frankenstein, but Mary Bennet deserves more in my opinion! 😉 After some hints of the possibility of a relationship, my romantic heart was hoping for another ending. (I would have preferred a more Austen-y resolution!)
While not as romantic a tale as Austenesque readers might wish, Pride and Prometheus is still a stimulating and satisfying adventure that will be sure to delight fans of Frankenstein, gothic fiction, and Mary Bennet! I greatly enjoyed John Kessel’s thoughtfully composed and creative homage to these two literary classics. And it is because of Mr. Kessel’s writing that I am now itching to read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for myself!