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A Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepherd

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

384 pages
Published August 20th 2013 by Delacorte Press
Available on: Hardcover, Kindle

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It took me a while to finally review this book because it was a bizarre read for me. I had high hopes for this book but I gave it one star for the sole reason that I didn’t like it.

I am not a connoisseur of the Romantics. Of course I know who Mary Shelley is, always wanted to read Frankenstein (and will read it next month). Haven’t read her husband’s work, but know of his existence. I just wasn’t aware of the mystery surrounding their lives.

I requested this book on NetGalley attracted by its cover and title. I thought it was going to be a tragic romantic novel about a woman who was nothing but trouble. And I was right with the tragic part. There was no happy romance in the story. The author presents a story about a woman with what in our times we would consider serious mental issues and how her actions create a disturbing, tormented, dark relationship with everyone around her. A torment that her descendants carry with them no matter how much time has passed.

So, if the book was about what I thought it would be, why didn’t I like it?

Well, first of all, Charles Maddox, the star detective in the novel is no Sherlock Holmes. I had just read A study in Scarlet, and couldn’t help but compare both detectives. They way Maddox worked wasn’t entertaining enough for me. I simply couldn’t relate to his detective ways. I felt like he wasn’t a career detective but just a normal person trying to find out about others.

The way the story is told wasn’t for me. The “facts” were confusing enough and all that going back and forth made it even more confusing.

Like I said, I am not a connoisseur of these people’s lives, but from this book I can tell the author is absolutely not fond of Mary Shelley. I kind of felt like reading this book was a bad thing. Like talking behind someone’s back. The author created fiction out of non-fictional characters. But the fiction that she created can even be considered insulting to the memory of these people.

The story didn’t make sense for me, until I read the author’s notes at the end. That’s when all made sense. The author explains what the real facts are and which her inventions are. Her inventions were the things that didn’t make any sense to me. They were too cruel, twisted and disturbing to be true. I do have to give her credit for her imagination, but in this case, the mystery surrounding the Shelley’s is one to be left unexplained.

A Fatal Likeness is for people who have a deep knowledge of the Romantics. This book is not for the plain normal reader who can get confused and really believe what the author invented about these people. If you read this book, read it with an open mind and don’t try to make sense out of what you find makes no sense.

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New words learned from this book:

  • conflagaration: a large destructive fire.
  • panache: A bunch of feathers or a plume.
  • ignominy: 1. Great personal dishonor or humiliation.
    2. Shameful or disgraceful action, conduct, or character.
  • paroxysms: 1. A sudden outburst of emotion or action. 2. A convulsion .
  • prevaricate: To stray from or evade the truth.

Definitions by thefreedictionary.com.

I received a copy of this book VIA NETGALLEY but was not financially compensated in any way nor obliged to review. The opinions expressed are my own and based on my personal experience while reading it. This post contains affiliate links as stated in my disclosure policy.