Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match
Will the Sally Thorne I loved so long ago please return to the five and dime? Of the three novels she’s released since The Hating Game took romancelandia by storm, I was partial to Second First Impressions but disliked 99 Percent Mine. Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match falls right between those two extremes, with a slight kern toward being almost as bad as the latter. Parts of the funny gothic romance at play here absolutely work – in an Addams Family-esque way – but the whole reverse-My Fair Lady/Pygmalion situation our heroine has with the man of her fantasies hit me in precisely the wrong spot, as did the extremely hinky consent issues the book explores. The end result is a barely okay read which could have used a little more time in the incubation tank.
The Frankenstein clan has been lucky in love for generations, but opinionated and modern-minded Angelika might be the exception to the rule. At twenty-four, she is headed toward spinsterhood (gasp!). And she doesn’t want to be a spinster. So Angelica’s brother decides to make her the perfect man. Literally. Angelika and Victor find themselves constructing him from spare parts courtesy of morgue visits, and when Victor’s experiment works, she agrees to host his creation while he gets his bearings. She picks the name Will for him due to his determination to survive, and he soon displays his own sense of intellect. Will has amnesia and cannot remember who he was in his past life; Angelika agrees to help him suss out his past. Complications arise when the investigation leads her to a kind and dashing military man. Whom will she choose?
What in the universe IS this book? One part horny Tim Burton film, one part comedy, another part mystery. the resultant mess is helter-skelter and mainly filled with only occasionally likable characters. The tone goes from comedy to visceral horror to mystery to comedic in seconds. I love chaos; I love weird; I love messiness. But the book defeats itself.
Angelika Frankenstein unwisely delves into the hinky consent issues that arise instead of trying to keep the spooky, smirky comedy going. Since Will was “made for” Angelika, you see, she wants to have sex with him, but he is not entirely sure if he wants to have sex with her, let alone stay in her life rather than trying to figure out where he belongs. His penis, since it came from another body, literally has a mind of its own. This is weird and gross. Some of us may dream about humping Frankenstein, but if you don’t, this definitely isn’t the book for you. The discussion about this is supposed to be funny but is uncomfortable instead, and these are, frankly, conversations a book like this shouldn’t be having.
Angelika is hideously self-centered and shallow at the beginning of the book. Contact with kind and civilized Will changes her and actually brings her to religion, goodness and charity (!!), but damned if I didn’t like her original, bratty self better. Though either flavor of her comes off as predatory at the worst because of the aforementioned hinkiness. I really, really could’ve done without scenes where she and Victor discuss how large Will’s dong ought to be while scouring morgues for the right parts. At least Will knows how to coax her into being her best self (with praise). All of this is clearly an attempt at subverting old skool tropes, but is just as bad.
The story’s religious overtones are bizarre at best and feel preachy at worst, as does its obvious bow and scrape toward traditional gender roles after giving us a pants-wearing heroine who wants to see the world but gives up her hope of traveling to… well, you’ll see. It just piles more trouble onto the already troublesome plot. And it’s impossible to say that the author has made – even remotely – an attempt at being historically accurate; this is a wallpapery historical that seems to take place outside of space and time. On the other hand, there’s a cute subplot where a pig falls in love with Victor.
That is the right kind of off-kilter, and sometimes the book produces that, but in the end, Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match often leans way too hard towards the bad sort of off-kilter, the kind that causes you to give your e-reader a funny look.
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier