Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein

If you love comic strips, graphic novels, or rad video game graphics that tell the story seen in your imagination, then you will find Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein intriguing. This literary remake of Mary Shelley’s classic work captures attention immediately with on-point illustrations complementing the descriptive narrative, down to the smallest imagined detail. Grimly himself writes in his Afterword, “I wanted to set the tale in a world that could only be visited through my imagination. Dark moral lessons exist amidst a whimsical tone.” (Grimly 195).

The original Frankenstein was published in 1818 by Mary Shelley but the core messages of this chilling classic stand the test of time, especially told through Grimly’s words and pictures. Shelley’s original work was very advanced for its era. For many, the disturbing concept of creating life in a laboratory was difficult to understand. However, Shelley’s lessons about the consequences of what we create continue to captivate and even frighten readers today. As medical science has evolved, we can now transplant organs from one human being to another to sustain life. This is the positive side of such advancement but what are the consequences? Mary Shelley was asking these questions before anyone around her could imagine this kind of science. The problem with Shelley’s telling of Frankenstein is that the novel is long and difficult for a modern reader to get through. Enter Gris Grimly. Grimly is a wildly talented illustrator who was inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so much so that he re-wrote the story in a way that would be more understandable to a wide audience. He added captivating, weird, and sometimes horrifying (in a good way) graphics that help usher the reader through the dense and detailed story.

Frankenstein is the story of Victor Frankenstein’s twisted life. A key component to understanding Victor is learning that he loses his beloved mother to scarlet fever. He is heart-broken and his grief drives him to the brink of insanity. His entire purpose becomes trying to find the cure for all illness, to prevent man’s demise from disease. This transforms from wanting to cure disease to creating life. Through research and experimentation, Victor succeeds in resurrecting the dead and creating life from a dead body dug out of a graveyard. The glory of his creation turns into fear because the life form has a hideous appearance. “For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” (Grimly 42) Victor immediately flees the creature, his own creation, without even giving the creature a chance to learn humanity. The monster is brought into the world and abandoned by his maker. Grimly’s illustrative rendering of the scene is grotesque, sad, and begs the question, “who is the real monster?” Victor’s abandonment of the monster is a grave mistake. The monster flees into a world he does not understand with no guidance. He is shunned and hated by all manner of person. The rejection destroys the monster. He becomes jealous, hurt, and angry. The monster does not understand why he is treated differently than Victor and he is jealous of the love and acceptance Victor has from his family and friends. The monster’s rage and jealousy turn destructive and then deadly as he seeks to make Victor suffer in the worst way imaginable. With the guilt of his family being murdered by his own creation, Victor sets out to kill the creature and send it back to the darkness. Ultimately, this obsession leads to Victor’s own demise.

Grimly’s illustrations and written word are dark but weirdly drive home sympathy for the monster and disgust with Victor. Grimly writes in his Afterword about seeing the story through Victor’s eyes, “Beware the slippery slopes of acclimating to a life of self-absorbed achievements and fame, lest one falls into the pit of fire and brimstone.” (Grimly 195) Victor’s selfish undoing is not the only lesson of Frankenstein. The damage of ” judging a book by its cover” is another. The monster wants only acceptance and love. Anyone who has ever felt like the outsider or outcast can identify with him. Grimly beautifully draws the monster asking Victor to create a companion for him so he can, “become linked to the chain of existence and events, from which I am now excluded.” (Grimly 117) This drives home the monster’s feeling of loneliness and desire for acceptance and companionship. The reader can’t help but be frustrated by how the monster is treated and ask themselves, “wouldn’t I treat him better?” Ultimately what Gris Grimly accomplishes with his interpretation of Frankenstein is illustrative magic. Grimly draws the reader into his cool, grotesque, and hipster version of Frankenstein’s world, without allowing the reader to miss the key elements and moral questions of the original story. He takes the hard work of Mary Shelley’s immense masterpiece and makes it an easy ride for all readers.

-Johnson D.

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Adhieh

The wrath and the dawn is not your everyday fantasy novel. 

For one, it has middle eastern representation, which in my opinion is a certain demographic in fantasy that is highly underrepresented. Secondly, it is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, the fairy tale that which inspired Aladdin and many other films under the title the tales are commonly referred to, Arabian Nights

But before we continue can we take a moment to appreciate the covers? The original covers that were released with the book when it came out in 2015, are absolutely gorgeous. And I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that the reason I purchased these books was because of the covers. My quest to obtain the original covers was completed through the wonderful website of eBay, which fortunately had one or two to spare for my honorable mission.

But fear not, the covers were not the only extraordinary part of the book, because of course the most important part of any novel is the content. To that, the wrath and the Dawn upheld the high expectations I had for it. 

The Wrath and The Dawn tells the story of Sharzard, a women of noble birth in the Islamic Golden Age, and Khalid, the Caliph who takes a new bride each night only for them to die the morning after. Once Sharzard’s closest friend falls victim, she decides to volunteer to be his bride to try and kill Khalid. Sharzard convinces the Caliph not to kill her through the stories she tells each night. 

I absolutely zoomed through this book. Not only this one but the duology as well and ended up reading them both in one day. This was highly encouraged by the short and fast-paced chapters. There was never a dull moment in this book, and there was always someone to follow and root for. 

Another particular part that had me completely enthralled and hooked on was the romance. Although the premise seems somewhat problematic and troubling the romance evolves in a very cute and intimate manner that makes it hard to dislike. As with a lot of young adult novels, the main character’s remarks tend to be very witty and sarcastic. But unlike in other novels where those said remarks seem forced and unlike the character, Sharzard’s personality in my opinion is much more genuine and seems natural. These remarks make the banter much more fun to read and helped me get through the book even faster. 

But more importantly, its an enthralling tale about love, danger, and magic in ancient times that everyone should read. 

The wrath and the dawn is also available as a webtoon and although I prefer the original material, if you are short for time or quite like the cartoonish style then I highly recommend that as well. (Note, the webtoon is not completed and is currently being updated weekly.

-Asli B.

The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Adhieh is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.