Catherine Bruton brings her literary knowledge to bear in this fast-paced historical adventure story, moving from the Dickensian setting of her previous novel, Another Twist in the Tale, to the landscapes of the Arctic and North America, and drawing inspiration from American literature and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The book is ‘following Frankenstein’ in many ways as it imagines events following the famous novel and depicts the obsessive pursuit of Victor Frankenstein’s creature.
Maggie, the tale’s narrator, has always felt that she takes second place in her father’s thoughts and feelings, subsumed as they are by his obsessive desire to find the creature, first encountered years before. When her father sets off on one final voyage in search of Frankenstein’s monster Maggie stows away, determined to protect her father at any cost. In the icy, Arctic lands a shocking discovery is made: Frankenstein’s monster had a son, Kata, shunned by all who encounter him, but befriended by Maggie and her heroic pet mouse Victor.
The epic adventure that ensues sees Maggie and Kata race across the North American continent in a bid for freedom, encountering a flamboyant circus, Native American peoples, and the Underground Railroad. Characters from such iconic American novels as Moby Dick, The Last of the Mohicans and Uncle Tom’s Cabin appear throughout the narrative in an exhilarating mash up that carries readers along without too much questioning of the chronology, geography, and literary anachronisms.
Although knowledge of Mary Shelley’s original novel is required to follow the fast-moving plot, the other literary characters fit in to the story without the need for prior knowledge and may serve to introduce young readers to a wide range of books. The treatment of Kata is harsh and cruel at times and the book raises important questions about the treatment of otherness and disability. Themes of mental illness, family breakdown, exclusion and loneliness are set against depictions of kindness, empathy, resilience, and love, all bound up in a fastmoving gothic adventure that will enthral readers of 9+.