Mathilda by Mary Shelley, a review

Mathilda by Mary Shelley is a short work that was suppressed from publication by her father and was only first published a century after her death.

Considering the content of this book, that certainly sheds a different light upon the possibly autobiographical nature of the book. However, the darkest aspects of this book are conjecture only (with William Godwin supressing the novella to avoid rumours), with the writing about the father’s grief at losing his wife and inability to care for his daughter being that which mimicked life.

I read this for the Mary-Shelley-A-Thon for the prompt of reading a book/poem by Shelley herself, and I’m glad that motivated me to pick up this interesting little read. I went into the book completely blind and was very surprised by the content (I recommend checking the trigger warnings for this one if you need to, they’ll be highlightable down below).

This book is very dark, following a young woman’s life without love and with much pain. She blames herself for the actions of her father and cannot reconcile to forgive herself, despite not being to blame whatsoever. Mathilda is in complete isolation for the majority of this book, left to be introspective alone.

Shelley depicts Mathilda’s mental deterioration with skill. You can see the character’s slow mental decline whilst attempting to tackle her thoughts and demons. Being isolated certainly causes these to develop much further than they would’ve in company and leads her down a very dark path.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 8, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 7 giving a score of 7.57 and a 4* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: death of parent, incest, suicidal thoughts, suicide, grief, adult/minor relationship, mental illness, terminal illness, paedophilia.

This book is only a first draft, as she sent this draft to her father and he never released it back to her. Despite that it is well crafted and really shows Shelley’s talent. I can only imagine what this novella could have become if Shelley had been able to spend time on revisions.

Have you read Shelley’s most famous novel? Frankenstein. Or any of her other works? If so let me know your thoughts on her writing! I think I might need to pick up more from her in the future.

2 Readathons, 2 Book Boxes – My August ’22 TBR!

It’s tbr time again! This month I’m going to be taking part in two readathons, as well as wanting to read my book box choices and starting up the tbr jar again! Let’s start with the books that aren’t for any prompts.

The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi is the Goldsboro GSFF book. This is apparently the first book in a trilogy, a high fantasy with Lesbian rep and the praises of Samantha Shannon. Simply just being the Goldsboro book would’ve been enough for me to be excited but with all those other points? So excited to dive in!

The Illumicrate book for this month is The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones which is a Welsh based mythologically inspired read with faries and fae. I’m usually not a big fan of fae, but I actually really enjoy them when in a Celtic and native British setting so I’m hopeful for this one. It’s only 350 pages so I may as well give it a shot!

Then, my tbr jar book. Yup, I brought it back! And this time I pulled out Fire by Kristin Cashore, the second book in the Graceling series. I’m really excited to continue on with these books because Graceling was such a fun read. I’ve been told that this isn’t a direct sequel, but is within the same world, so I’m really curious!

Now onto the two readathons I’m taking part in this month! The first I’ll mention is one that’s covering the whole of August, and that is the Mary-Shelley-A-Thon hosted by Caitlyn from Mad Cheshire Rabbit. This is in celebration of Shelley’s birthday on the 31st of August, and so of course the prompts were all inspired by her! The second is taking place from the 28th August until the 2nd September, and this is the MiddleEarthAThon, this one celebrating the new Lord of the Rings series coming out on the 2nd. Neither of these require you to have read things in their respective areas before you join them, so please do consider joining us!

Mathilda by Mary Shelley is a short story, according to Goodreads it’s 79 pages. I picked this one for the prompt of reading something by Shelley, as I don’t own anything unread by her and thought that I may as well go for something short if I’m adding another book!

Then for the prompt of reading a poem or poetry collection, I’m using The Complete Poems of Robert Burns. I’m hoping I can read the whole thing this month. But if not as long as I read one it technically counts for the prompt so I’m all good!

This next book hits two Mary-Shelley-A-Thon prompts and one MiddleEarthAThon prompt. The book is All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, a historical fiction set in WWII France following a blind girl trying to survive Nazi occupation. For Shelley the prompts are a book outside of your comfort zone and a tbr veteran. I’ve had this book since 2016 and I really don’t get on as much with historical fiction anymore. For MiddleEarth it’s the oldest book on my tbr.

Then Demon Road by Derek Landy is my pick for the shiny book, the whole cover is so bright! This is by the same author as Skulduggery Pleasant and I’m nervous, because I’ve heard mixed reviews, but I’m excited to dive in myself.

The last book I’ve put on my tbr is the biggest, at 1100+ pages, and that’s The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is for the short story collection prompt, and because this one is so big (and I only have a week to read both it and the other two books – which are both 500+ pages) I’ll count the prompt as complete as long as I read a minimum of 5 stories. But I’m going to try and read them all!

And that’s my tbr! Definitely a challenging one, specifically at the end of the month, but I’m excited to dive into all of these and enjoy some new worlds and stories! What’s one book on your tbr for this month?