As a fledgling writer still exploring the mysterious world of the self-published ebook I recently bought two ebooks on amazon. One I have yet to finish because I’m finding the writing style so… awkward. The second, The Mary Shelley Game, I finished in one night. I admit that it was a short book but I think I would have stayed up reading even if it had been three times as long because it had all the ingredients that I look for as a reader – well paced, gripping plot-lines, interesting, believable characters and good prose. Not flowery prose, not ‘see how clever I am’ prose but good, clean, prose that does exactly what it’s meant to do.
I found all that and more in The Mary Shelley Game. This is how we should all be writing.
The following is the long version of the review I wrote for Goodreads :
I have been known to read toilet roll wrappers when desperate for something to read so trying out some self-published, indie authors should have been a step upwards. Sadly it wasn’t…until I stumbled across Candy Korman’s The Mary Shelley Game.
I began reading the excerpt on Amazon and found that I could not stop reading. I bought the book on the spot and stayed up far too late reading it on my Kindle for the pc. By the time I finally went to bed my eyes were rolling around in my head but I was happy because I had discovered a new author to follow. When you read as much as I do, finding a new, good author is always a red letter day.
So what is The Mary Shelley Game all about? The core of the story is that a mixed group of acquaintances meet up for a weekend of good food, good wine, good conversation and the task of writing something on the theme of Mary Shelley’s book Frankenstein. What they do not know is that a real monster is stalking them from the shadows.
The story of what happens to the group is told from the perspective of one of the guests, a struggling writer by the name of Amanda. The counterpoint to her story is that of the group’s unknown stalker. The stark differences between these two viewpoints creates tension in the story right from the beginning. That tension only builds as we learn what the stalker has planned for them all.
As a thriller, The Mary Shelley Game lives up to expectations very well but it is in the Frankenstein stories told by the guests and the development of the main characters that it really shines. Despite being a novella length story the character of Amanda is both vivid and believable. She is an ordinary person with ordinary problems, not some cookie cutter heroine. The stalker too is portrayed as a three dimensional character. Getting inside his head is disturbing but by the end of the book you cannot help feeling a little bit of empathy for him… which makes his actions all the more shocking.
Quite apart from the well paced plot, one of the things I enjoyed most about The Mary Shelley Game was the elegance of its style. Korman’s writing is witty and erudite without ever being pretentious or boring and the flashes of humour were a joy. She knows how to write and does it very, very well.
If you only read one ebook this year, make it The Mary Shelley Game. You won’t be disappointed.