The Spark

Today begins the end of October and day one of Horror Novel Week. I’ll admit, I’m not much on horror stories (I much prefer movies), but there are at least three books I believe fit into this genre. Some of you may not agree with me, but just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so is one woman’s “fears” another’s entertainment.

First on my list is a book that sparked an array of horror movies and is considered one of the first works of science fiction. In 1818 Frankenstein was published. Written by an 18-year-old Mary Shelley, the novel managed to become a literary classic and a story that began a slew of interpretations and reproductions.

I wonder if Mary Shelley had any idea what her story would become. It started off as a way to pass the time. Mary was in Switzerland with her lover (and eventual husband) Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and friends. The weather wasn’t cooperative for outdoor activities they’d planned, so Byron decided everyone should write a short supernatural tale. So Frankenstein was born.

When I was in college, I read this book maybe five times. It was required. I wasn’t enamored of it in any sense. In fact, I hated it. As I mentioned before, I don’t read many “horror” novels, so I wasn’t exactly happy when five different professors made me read this book for a grade. Meh.

However, when I was trying to think of novels that fit the horror genre, this book was first on my list. In deciding to write about it, I tried to put myself in the mind of 19th century readers and thought: ‘Damn that Mary Shelley!’. As a writer, I can’t help but admire her. Mary Shelley…at 18 (I was more concerned with partying than writing) wrote a story that is still being read nearly two hundred years after she wrote it. To compound that admiration, she wrote it at a time when women were considered too fragile to even read about certain subjects, much less write about them.

What’s not to admire? Her book has been made into plays and movies. It’s been spoofed, Frankenstein’s creature has become a Halloween favorite costume, songs have been written about it. You name it, it’s been done. All because one 18-year-old girl had a kernel of an idea at the prompting of a friend. She made a short story a novel with the support and encouragement of Percy.

Now that I’m older, I feel compassion for the creature I hadn’t before. I wonder what would have happened if Frankenstein had shown his creation a little love and care. What if Frankenstein had created a bride for his creation? As a romance writer, I can’t help but be curious as to what their relationship would have been like. I suppose that’s the beauty of her novel, it sparked so many ideas for generations of novelists, screenwriters, musicians, and artists. My absolute favorite of every interpretation of Frankenstein is Young Frankenstein. I can’t help it, I’m a Mel Brooks fan and it’s hilarious.

If you’ve read Frankenstein, what do you think about it? Do you enjoy reading it? Do you loathe it as much as I dislike Charles Dickens? (Sorry Dickens fans, I can’t help it, I’ve disliked Dickens since I was forced to read Hard Times.) What’s your favorite interpretation of it?

12 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews

12 responses to “The Spark

  1. KAK

    I was a pre-teen visiting a London bookstore –a small little shop that bore a striking resemblance to the wand shop in Harry Potter — when my father told me to pick out a story that would keep me entertained during down time. I picked up Dracula flipped it open, curled my nose at the notion of a book being a collection of journal entries, and put it back when the name “Mary Shelly” caught my eye. I was in the throes of “girls can do anything,” so I chose Frankenstein as my entertainment. Neither a fast nor an easy read, I remember being devastated by the way people treated the monster.

    I might have had to shoot myself had I been forced to read it, not once, but thrice in college.

    Boris Karloff rocked the tragedy of it in the 1931 movie, but Peter Boyle in Mel’s farce = total comedic genius.

  2. I’m not a horror book reader. Horror movies freak me out, but I can tolerate them more than a book. Something about reading something scary, makes it even more scary, probably cuz of my imagination. A movie tells you what I’m seeing/imagining, but reading, I have to invent the pictures in my head to coincide with the text.

    Yeah, not for me. Too scary. LOL.

  3. Never read the book, but the TV movie, based on the book, I like the best of any. Well, I liked the spoof too – who doesn’t love Mel Brooks?
    We should all write such timeless prose. It was/is genius.

  4. I loved the movie, but afraid I never read the book.

    I’ve hated Dickens since I was forced to read Great Expectations. Any book that the author was paide by the word should be band. LOL

    • Ciara, you have made me feel so much better for not being a Dickens fan. I was in Romantic Writers class in college and…hello, Dickens is a VICTORIAN author, but one of my fellow students was so enamored of Dickens, he brought it up for every. Single. Class.

  5. I don’t read horror either. So I’m not so good for this post. I do love your blog though:)

  6. Read it- liked it (seems I’m in the minority there)- But then again, I read the encyclopedia Britannica from a- z in high school for fun and I like to read Shakespeare. I’m an Uber nerb (although I was cool, too!) Anyway, Young Frankenstein can not be topped in my opinion.

    The horror version with Kenneth Branaugh is particularly creepy- some nice shots of his body! And guess who plays the monster in that one? DeNiro! (1994)- check it out-

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