Pride and Prometheus

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Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel is a darkly magical re-imagining that fuses two great classics–Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice–into a seamless narrative. A chance encounter between Mary Bennett and Victor Frankenstein sets in motion a series of relationships that will leave them both forever changed. Victor is travelling with his friend Henry, brooding over his promise to his Creature to create a bride for him. As the pair have traveled, Victor has slowly been collecting the equipment and tools needed. He plans to part from Henry for a time, retiring to the remote Orkneys to complete his project. All that remains is to secure the body of a young woman.

Victor’s quest brings him in contact with Mary Bennett, that ends with an invitation to visit Pemberley, where Mary and her sister, Kitty, are currently staying. Both women are somewhat distressed over having reached their third decade and still being unmarried. Mary has some small hopes that Victor may yet save her from the life of an old maid. He has expressed some signs of interest. Victor’s stay in Pemberley does indeed net him the body he needs, and he continues on to Emray Island, shadowed all the while by his Creature. And by Mary, who has gone after him in the wake of devastating events, hoping to find answers as to the cause. She ends up travelling in the Creature’s company, learning more about Victor, and what the Creature seeks. Slowly, Mary begins to see the Creature, whom she calls Adam, as less a monster and more a human. Unfortunately, Victor does not accept that possibility. Can he still keep his promise in light of these feelings?

Pride and Prometheus keeps faith with the styles of the original works, while still allowing the author’s own voice to shine through. This story is told through Mary, Victor, and the Creature’s eyes. Victor and the Creature speak as first person, while Mary’s part is third person. It was neat to see the overlapping events from these myriad perspectives, each so very different from the other. As always, my heart ached for the Creature and how he is treated. To be abandoned even as you are born, first of your kind, has to be deeply scarring. His conflicted nature shows clear and strong. He wants to despise humans yet grows to accept Mary, at the least. It was nice to see how Mary grew to regard him as acquaintance, if not friend. She helps him in as many ways as he helped her. I love that even the nested aspect of Frankenstein was kept, encapsulating the final events of that story when Mary chances to meet a person from the ship who found Victor in the Arctic, and from where the Creature stole his body.

This story is a fantastically creepy homage to Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece and Austen’s Regency classic. It is a bold and well-played tale that will keep you reading long into the night. Recommended for those who love Frankenstein and/or Pride and Prejudice, and for any who love a good crossover sci-fi work.



Author John Kessel
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 384 pages
Publisher Saga Press
Publish Date 2018-Feb-13
ISBN 9781481481472
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue December 2018
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy
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