Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Through the Tempests Dark and Wild: A story of Mary Shelley, Creator of Frankens

Through the Tempests Dark and Wild: A story of Mary Shelley, Creator of Frankens

Sharon Darrow
Illustrator:  Angela Barrett 
Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Candlewick, 2000   ISBN: 978-0763608354

Mary is a sad and lonely little girl. Her father sent her away from home when she got ill and now she is in Scotland with the Baxter family. Over time however Mary becomes devoted to the two Baxter children, Robert and Isabel. They have wonderful times on the beach together and tell the most splendid stories about ghosts and lost love as they sit around the fire in the evenings. Clearly Mary is an introspective, thoughtful type of person who yearns to be loved and cared for.

One day Mary gets a letter from her father saying that it is time for her to return to London and to once again become a member of his household. She is very upset at having to leave the Baxters but she knows that she has no choice. Mary is soon back in London and all the miseries that had plagued her before return to her life. Her stepmother is unkind and her father too worried and busy to pay her any attention. Mary is very much a lost soul and she turns inwards. She finds comfort in writing down the stories that she has in her heart. Many of the stories were born in the countryside of Scotland when she lived with the Baxter's. One of these stories was to become the very first published piece of science fiction in English literature, and Mary to become famous as the woman who created the monster Frankenstein.

The author tells us the rest of Mary's extraordinary story in her afterword, and we are left with a deep feeling of pity for this woman who got so little from life and who lost so much. We can feel grateful that writing gave her solace, for her writings are something we can all enjoy for years to come.

The author of this magical and very moving book has created a work which is quite exceptional and which leaves the reader feeling enriched. The artwork compliments the text superbly, and it also shows us what Mary and her world were like in a most remarkable and expressive way.