Monster: The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim

Written by Shane Peacock
Review by Anne Clinard Barnhill

Monster, second in Shane Peacock’s The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim trilogy set in Victorian times, brings us to a world where the monsters and other creatures in literature have terrifyingly come to life. Edgar Brim and his crew of friends must destroy this new menace before it kills them all. Already the creature has murdered their mentor, and Edgar knows no one will be safe until the monster is destroyed.

Meanwhile, his guardian, Albert Thorne, forces him to apprentice for the brilliant scientist, surgeon, and vivisectionist Dr. Godwin. Edgar must assist in gruesome operations on the dead, all the while taking note of Dr. Godwin’s odd coolness toward his grisly work. As Edgar and his friends work to find the monster and devise a way to destroy it, the true nature of its evil slowly begins to dawn on Edgar. The monster is not at all what he imagines.

Perhaps it is coming into a trilogy midway that makes this novel difficult. I’m not exactly sure what age the intended audience is. For my taste, the book is rather too gory for middle-school readers, though some might find that particular part a fun “gross-out.” While the concept of literary monsters coming to life is a clever one, the execution of such an idea could be handled more imaginatively, with perhaps more believable events. The characters could use some fleshing out, particularly the narrator, Edgar Brim, himself. The best thing about the book is bringing in well-known works, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, even Melville’s Moby Dick. Perhaps young reader might become curious enough to read these original works after having read Monster.