4 out of 4 stars
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Based on Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," Adam Frankenstein: Search for a Soul by Sheila English is a highly enthralling collection of short stories for fans of the fabled monster and his search for his humanity. Sheila’s refreshing spin on this classic tale does not stray too far from Mary's story but explored an alternate premise where Frankenstein evolves, through time and unique interactions, into a being with integrity and empathy.
In "Marked," a mysterious woman, with the gift and curse of a golden mask that covers half of her face, offers herself to Adam in exchange for his help in protecting an extraordinary child. Nothing could have prepared Adam for what was to come, as the child leaves a lasting mark on him in more ways than one.
"Last Man Standing" sees Adam tortured by his actions when he is wrongly accused of murder and is later forced to become the monster he is accused of being to protect himself from a group of men out for revenge.
In "The Madame and the Madman," we are introduced to Adam’s vampire friend, the notorious Victor Dracula. Adam seeks Victor’s help in stopping a brothel that abuses children. Adam will come to regret not handling the situation himself when Victor makes it clear that one man's madness is another man’s justice.
In "Freak Show," Adam’s quest to fulfill the dying wish of his business partner leads him to a strange house somewhere in America. The house is not only made of magic but can also make every dream come true, for a price. Whoever agrees to the bargain can never leave. Adam will make a priceless addition, and the house is determined to make him stay.
I loved everything about this book. Sheila is a talented storyteller. Each tale pulls you in almost immediately, and the reader quickly becomes emotionally invested in the outcome of the story. The character development may not have been in-depth, given the limiting nature of short stories, but it was adequate enough to ensure the reader got the full gist of each plot as well as the motivations of each character. The connection to Mary Shelley included in the text added depth to the narrative.
I admired Adam. He proved to have more compassion and integrity than most of the humans who only saw him as a loathsome creature. Adam's character evolution over time, due in part to his experiences as an immortal, as well as the unconditional love of his dog and constant companion, Bella, opened his heart and mind to a reluctant acknowledgment of the complexities of the human condition. Adam believed he had no soul, created by science and magic the way he was, but his search for a soul was a haunting journey of self-discovery that brought him as close to humanity as any man, immortal or not, could ever get.
There was nothing to dislike about this book. The editing was exceptional, which leads me to conclude that it was done professionally. I am quite satisfied with my 4 out of 4 stars rating as the book thoroughly exceeded my expectations. Due to the graphic depiction of violence, mild profanity, and sexual content, this book is unsuitable for children. I am hopeful that this book is the first of many from Sheila English about the exploits of Adam Frankenstein, as I look forward to more tales about the classic monster. A riveting and highly entertaining read for fans of the classic horror genre or fans of great literature about Frankenstein's monster.
Adam Frankenstein: Search for a Soul
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