Review Blog

Feb 21 2012

Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2011. ISBN 9781408827987.
(Ages: 15+) Set in England in 1818, this book follows the story of Mr Creecher, also known as Frankenstein's monster, who follows his creator to England to make sure Frankenstein keeps his promise of making him a mate.
Young Billy, an orphan boy living a precarious life on the mean streets of London, comes across Mr Creecher lying in an alley. Hoping to rob his body, he instead becomes reluctantly entangled in the creature's obsession. In return for Mr Creecher's protection, Billy agrees to help him track Frankenstein and his friend Clerval as they slowly make their way from London to the Lakes District, and then on to Scotland
Billy and Creecher's is an unlikely friendship with misunderstandings and mistrust undercutting their mutual reliance on each other. As Creecher slowly reveals his story, Billy is both horrified and sympathetic to his plight, but can he overcome his divided feelings and a true friendship form?
Chris Priestly has expanded on the fictional world of Frankenstein by giving us insights into the life and mind of Frankenstein's monster, and it is easy to feel understanding at times towards his quest.
This is a slow, dark, evocative and atmospheric novel, which also includes a smattering of real life people in the form of the Romantic poets, and with literary and filmic references scattered throughout.  There are some wonderful descriptive moments, but the story can be repetitive and clunky in parts. Even though there is a little humour and wit running through it, the story can never in reality overcome its sense of impending doom. We know that Mary Shelley's book ends in tragedy, but you hold out hope for Billy, whose life is changed in numerous ways by his interaction with the creature.
The author asks the question can poverty, discrimination, brutality, abandonment and the lack of love make monsters of us all?  Does your own inhumane treatment justify you treating others inhumanely?  I'm not sure if this question is answered satisfactorily, but this theme is used to reveal a twist at the end for those readers familiar with villains in Victorian literature.
A thoughtful, sad read.
Alicia Papp

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