Saturday, November 08, 2008

"Pandora's Bride" Book Review

Every few years, Universal Studios comes out with some officiated product, which not only helps keep the monsters as "properties" active, it also slakes the thirst of us fans.

The last couple of years have seen a novel each about the big four or five -- Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mummy, Big Frankie, and this one, The Bride of Frankenstein: Pandora's Bride, by Elizabeth Hand. All are published by Dark Horse Press.

What's good: the idea of the female creature, who takes the name Pandora, learning about the world and making allies and enemies. The idea of interaction with other fictional people -- people from other fictions, I mean. The idea of her again meeting the Monster and becoming friends (he can grow and learn, too).

What's bad: The choice of good guys and bad guys. In this tale, Dr Pretorius is like a New Ager's idea of God -- he's charming, whimsical, well-wishing, and powerless, except to create imperfect beings who outgrow him.

In this tale, Henry Frankenstein isn't the pathetic, neurotic genius seen in the films -- a man torn by self-doubt. No, he's an evil, endlessly rich fanatical genius who desires to enslave all women as domestic robots, because (in Hand's view), THAT'S WHAT MEN WANT.

This either says a lot about misanthropy on Hand's part, or tells us Too Much Information about her formative years.

Then we find out that Henry Frankenstein, that mean ol' slimy devil, isn't even the REAL Mad Genius behind it all.

No, the ultimate villain is a character so marginal that in the two films (Frankenstein and Bride ) they were played by two different performers!

What's fun anyway: Mixing it up with characters from M , Metropolis, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari , and other fictions. Somebody tell me, who are Wykstan and Christopher? Are any of the night-club types characters from Caberet?

This book is set in Germany, between WWI and WWII. Another book in the series featuring the male Monster, Frankenstein: The Shadow of Frankenstein by Stefan Petrucha, also includes Baron Frankenstein and his creation, but is set in the 1880s. Chronology impairment much?

This tells us that the editors of this series couldn't care less about any internal whatchamacallit, they just wanted to sell some books to fanboys.

Oops! I bought one.

Anyway, if you are a Psycho Nut Completist like me, or merely somebody who believes that a "Y" chromosome denotes evil, feel free to read this book.
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© by Mark Alfred