Two outcasts inhabit London in 1818 – one of them 15-year-old Billy, a pickpocket and thief, the other a hulking creature given life by Dr. Victor Frankenstein. This is not a retelling of that other famous story, but rather an inventive narrative that looks into a dark world where Billy is beaten and bullied and Mister Creecher is judged for his terrible appearance. Kind at heart, his face “looked as though it had been hanging at Execution Dock for many days.”
It is night as Billy steps out into foggy, ominous Finsbury Square. He attempts to rob a corpse, only to have it rise to its feet, save Billy from street thugs, and hurry him to safety. Their unlikely friendship grows as Billy helps Creecher locate Dr. Frankenstein, who has promised he will create a bride for his “monster.” Appalled and fascinated, Billy accompanies Creecher on Creecher’s quest for love and acceptance, learning a lot about himself and the true nature of the world and his place in it in the process. Priestley’s eloquent descriptions of London’s underbelly make this a compelling book whose characters are not soon forgotten. The author’s scenes with Mary Shelley, though brief, add to this gothic novel’s engaging and enlightening tone. Highly recommended.