Review: “White Charles” by Sarah Monette

3 of 5 stars.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has inspired much analysis, exploration, and extrapolation on behalf of writers over the centuries. Many works inspired by Shelley, show the scholar/scientists “playing god” without regard to those they hurt. The Island of Dr. Moreau is a famous example. A few look to the psychology of the “monster,” as is the case with this tale.

The Frankenstein connection is boldly called out for comparison by the museum archivist, Mr. Booth, that narrates this story. A golem-like creature is discovered to have been brought to “life” by a centuries-dead alchemist-necromancer. Mr. Booth discovers the creature when attending to a donated estate–the creature immediately prepares to defend itself. However, the creature is not happy being a not-quite-living thing when it was never meant to be alive. . .

An interesting post-slavery, racial perspective on the golem’s position of servitude stands as a welcome surprise. Less enamoring is the archivist’s analytic voice which reminded me of Shelley’s impassive, distant narration style.

This short story was included in the anthology The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2010 edited by Paula Guran. I’ve previously read this author’s brilliantly crafted “Somewhere Beneath Those Waves Was Her Home” and her collaborative sci-fi with Elizabeth Bear “The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward. The latter piece also thematically touches on Shelley’s Frankenstein, though it focused on the perpetrator/scientist and not on the victims.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


One response to “Review: “White Charles” by Sarah Monette

  1. Pingback: Short Story Review: “Impostors” by Sarah Monette | Jaffalogue

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