Format: NookBook, Kindle, and other digital formats
Publisher: Pulp 2.0 Press
Publication Year: 197?
I sooooo wanted to like this one. While I’ve never been able to slog through Mary Shelly’s original novel, I’ve long been a fan of the many incarnations of Frankenstein. From the moody black and white of the Universal classics, through the Technicolor gore of the Hammer flicks, and into the pulpy four color goodness of the Dick Briefer comic series, Victor (or Henry) Frankenstein and his undying monster(s) have loomed hauntingly over a corner of my imagination for as long as I can remember.
Frankenstein Lives Again is the first novel in The New Adventures of Frankenstein, a series of 11 (soon to be 12) pulp horror/adventure books that originally saw print in the early 1970s. The idea of a pulp style Frankenstein series written with the Universal Monster flicks in mind appealed to me and I downloaded the book as soon as it became available in a Nook friendly format. Sadly, even with the highly attractive .99 NookBook price (and it’s equally affordable for the Kindle version), I don’t feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth.
Dr. Burt Winslow is the square-jawed hero of the piece. He’s ridiculously handsome, ludicrously rich, and impossibly good at everything he sets out to do. Unfortunately for the world at large, his latest project is to recover and revive the Frankenstein monster. Winslow has learned that Shelly’s novel was based on actual events. He has sunk his considerable resources into learning Victor Frankenstein’s formula for reviving the dead, purchasing the original Castle Frankenstein in Ingolstadt, Germany, and tracking the monster to the Arctic where he has been frozen solid for nearly a century-and-a-half. Winslow must fight his way through superstitious and murderous Eskimos who worship the monster’s frozen remains as a god, then sneak the monster past superstitious and murderous Germans, who fear that Winslow will bring back the horror of Frankenstein.
Make no mistake, the book barrels along like a freight train full of loose cadaver parts going downhill in an ice storm. The action rarely slows down long enough to establish characterization, and herein lies the book’s biggest flaw. The whole concept of “pulp style fiction” suggests action and entertainment taking precedent over literary value, which is fine within limits, but the novel is populated with one dimensional cyphers that it’s impossible to care about. Making matters worse is the fact that our bolt-necked hero isn’t resuscitated until two-thirds of the way through, and when he does finally get up off the laboratory table (sporting a very trendy-for-the-times black turtleneck I hasten to add) he is unable to speak. More often than not, the monster is usually mute in the movies, but having him able to speak here would have opened up a lot of possibilities. The final nail in the coffin, though, is that the book contains some of the clunkiest prose since Snoopy typed the immortal narrative hook “It was a dark and stormy night.”
Glut obviously has great love for the material. The character of Dartani for example, an evil mesmerist who travels the countryside with a house of horrors on wheels, is obviously inspired by the Dr. Niemann character from 1944’s House of Frankenstein. In fact, there’s a very interesting interview with the author over on the always entertaining Frankensteinia blog, where he discusses The New Adventures of Frankenstein series and the process of writing it. Glut does mention in the interview that Frankenstein Lives Again was his fist novel and he wasn’t happy with some of the writing. With that in mind, I may still give the other volumes in the series a chance once they are available for download, but sadly I can not recommend Frankenstein Lives Again.