What It’s About:
It’s 1853 London. Ex-medical student Victor Frankenstein has been missing for years now. Frankenstein’s great niece Mary Saville and her husband, Henry, are trying to follow in his scientific footsteps and become renowned paleontologists. They have the brains and the ambition; the only thing they lack is the reputation. Mary is a woman with a sharp mind but a fierce tongue and Henry is an unemployed gambling addict: none of this earning appeal with their peers.
But after finding clues to her great uncle’s disappearance, Mary’s luck may just change. She constructs a plan that will force the scientific community to take her and her husband seriously; no one will be able to ignore them after they learn to create life. Once they have successfully constructed their Creature, Henry’s ambition soars, but Mary finds herself asking deeper, more important questions than she’s ever confronted before. As Henry’s desire for fame grows, Mary must decide how far she is willing to go to protect the Creature she has grown to love.Goodreads
Thank you to Harper and Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The first thing of Our Hideous Progeny that caught my attention was the eye-catching cover. Looking at it, I expected to read a gothic horror. While the book did provide gothic vibes, there really wasn’t much horror to be found. Mary’s family connection to Frankenstein and the experiments that she and her husband conducted could be considered horror elements but I didn’t find them very horrifying.
Mary’s unique character didn’t fit into the mold of a stereotypical Victorian woman. What stood out the most was her struggle to fit into that mold. Mary was character was often a bit unlikeable, but I enjoyed it. She was outspoken, assertive, and often argumentative. It was empowering to see a female character that asked alot of questions, challenged the status quo, and stood up for herself in a patriarchial society.
Mary had to face many obstacles to pursue her interests in paleontology. The opportunities for women to have any type of academic career during that time period was very limited…especially in science fields. This was probably my favorite part of the book. I enjoy reading books with female characters in the STEM fields and learning about the historical aspects of it.
Another element of the book that stuck with me was the prejudice and racism that her Indian mentor experienced as a member of the scientific society. This wasn’t a major theme in the story, but it made me think about history and in a new way. In the notes at the end, the author names the real life people who inspired her characters. These included Mary Shelly (of course), Mary Anning, Mary Somerville, and Ardaseer Cursetjee Wadia.
While there were several elements of Our Hideous Progeny that I enjoyed, the Frankenstein aspect of the book didn’t quite fit into the overall story. It almost felt like a gimmick to draw interest. The book was also longer than it needed to be. I would have loved to see a more realistic book of a Victorian female scientist. I think it’s a story worth telling and the Frankenstein/creation of life takes away that impact.
if you are interested in stories of women in stem fields or non-traditional careers, you might enjoy these books:
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