Escaping the authorities and the aftermath of the massacre with the King’s Club, Juliet and company (Montgomery, Lucy, Edward/Beast, Balthazar, and one dog) attempt to travel secretly to Elizabeth von Stein’s castle in north Scotland, Juliet now being Elizabeth’s ward. Their journey is not without a few mishaps, but they arrive somewhat safely to the moors and Ballantyne Manor. Once there, they are surprised to find a house full of women, apprenticed girls, and . . .secrets, as well as one old man and one very strange little boy. The girls are scarred and have odd appearances. The little boy, Henley, is freakishly strong and gives off a creepy vibe. With Edward worsening and their safety threatened by the King’s Club and the law, Juliet and the others must ignore the oddities and make do. When Elizabeth reveals to Juliet that she wants her to be her heir and that all of the von Steins have been doctors with the abilities to transplant living flesh, possibly even reanimating corpses, Juliet wars with her desire for scientific exploration and the very real possibility she will become her terrible father. Despite her fear, a series of events force Juliet’s choice. First, the previous heir, Valentina, betrays them all to the law, sending messages to Lucy’s father who is intent upon his revenge. Second, the Beast tricks Lucy into giving his freedom and they are forced to kill the Beast. Third, Henley becomes more and more unstable and is becoming a danger to them all. As Juliet’s wedding to Montgomery nears, she can no longer deny her birthright and must try to eclipse her father’s legacy–by resurrecting Edward and purging her father’s taint from an innocent boy. Still, this means lying to Montgomery and possibly creating another monster like Henley. As Lord Radcliffe, Lucy’s father, bears down upon them, intent on the Origin Journals that detail the reanimating process, Juliet’s past and present collide in an explosive finale.
In similar classic novel recreation as the first two books in the series, this last one more traditionally follows Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and makes you look again at what you thought to be a horror. I love that these books are comparable to an old Victorian horror story and yet weave elements of timeless novels. They are simultaneously eerily unsettling and familiarly lovable. Although I first thought this series was weird, by this book I’m pleasantly thinking of the characters and the story as old friends. What delightful twists will this novel take with classic literature? As for the romance, this book finally has things more sorted out, but may break your heart in the end. I certainly wasn’t expecting certain elements of the ending, but I was still pleased with the resolution.
Fun fact: I’ve visited the castle in the background of this cover. Look up Eileen Donan. Scotland can be a pretty magical and yet desolate place. . .Perfect for recreated monsters to be wandering about the landscape. Picture meeting Frankenstein in a dense fog after you’ve been lost because all you’ve seen for ages has been moors and sheep!
Note: If you’re looking to scare yourself to death, just read this book during a severe thunderstorm!