About: This free-verse biography with black-and-white watercolor illustrations depicts “Frankenstein’s” young author, Mary Shelley.
Ofilia’s Thoughts: This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein so this biography of Mary Shelley comes at a perfect time. This is a gorgeous book that tells an ugly story. Fully illustrated, Judge uses poems to narrate the life of Mary Shelley. She met the promising poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, at 16 and ran away with him. Soon she found herself unwed and pregnant while Shelley was cheating on her with her own stepsister. As if this wasn’t awful enough, her infant died at 10 days old because she was born premature. The sorrow doesn’t end there. Judge argues that the pain and misery that Shelley endured at such a young age is what gave her the basis for her famous literary monster. She recounts hardship after hardship all the while the monster seems to grow in the illustrations in the background. Sometimes fully present, sometimes hidden in a landscape or in the shape of a cloud that hints at something sinister. Even if you are not a fan of Frankenstein, you cannot help but feel for this young woman who is trying to make her way in a world that doesn’t value her or her talents. Judge also includes notes on her own process and on what happened to everyone mentioned in the book. A prefect eerie read as we approach the Halloween season.