Title: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-Great-GReat-Great-Granddaughter
Author: Brea Grant
Illustrator: Yishan Li
Publisher: Six-foot Press. 2020
Genre: graphic novel
Themes: writing, authors, famous authors, family, monsters, humor, gothic, Mary Shelley,
Everyone expects sixteen-year-old Mary to be a great writer. After all, her mother, her aunt, and her grandmother are all successful writers (as they constantly remind her)?not to mention her famous namesake, the OG Mary Shelley, horror author extraordinaire. But Mary is pretty sure she’s not cut out for that life. She can’t even stay awake in class! Then one dark and rainy night, she’s confronted with a whole new destiny. Mary has the ability to heal monsters… and they’re not going to leave her alone until she does.
With the help of a mysterious (and mysteriously cute) stranger, a Harpy, a possessed stuffed bunny, and her BFF Rhonda, Mary must uncover her family’s darkest secret if she’s going to save the monster world… and herself. (publisher)
Why I like this book:
This is a quirky, creepy, fun coming-of-age story with amazingly rich art panels full of gags on every page. It is a cool gateway for tweens/teens into gothic horror (with a humorous twist) and the classics. I could imagine teens wanting to read more about Frankenstein or Mary Shelley after this.
The novel is a fun twist on Mary Shelley’s literary legacy. Her descendants are successful female writers who also possess the gift to heal real, live monsters. Our protagonist Mary is an angsty contemporary teen not interested in following in the family authorial traditions. She learns of her inherited gift after a dissection lab results in Frankenfrog. At first she doesn’t want to get involved with the monsters who want her help, but she wants to do the right thing.
It is an adrenaline-pumping spooky romp of a teen trying to define herself in light of the entrenched family legacy. It is dark and heart-warming at the same time, and a great Halloween read with family friction, friendship stress, passing bio…. It is bizarro but fully teen-relatable’ including the almost kiss with the crush. I love the diversity amongst the monsters, which include a harpy, a demon possessing backyard rodents, ghosts, a large egg, and more.
If you have a teen who likes gothic, graphic novels, or is perhaps toying with the idea of reading classics but feels intimidated, this is a great doorway read, though it definitely will have a wide readership too.
If you loved especially all the Mary Shelley references, I highly recommend reading the illustrated novel, Mary’s Monster by Lita Judge.