Books As John Sutherland notices, a century of inaccurate, sensationalist film adaptations of Frankenstein have obscured Mary Shelley’s masterstroke: it isn’t explained how the creature comes into being. As narrator, Victor Frankenstein describes the process of gathering the bones and whatnot, there are references to labs, but when his creation winks into life, there’s no lightning or slabs, with the Doctor obfuscating so that his experiment cannot be repeated. The other surprise is the intellectual prowess of the beast. Shelley’s monster is entirely sentient making his tragedy all the more compelling. Unlike most screen versions he’s all too aware of his horrific frame and so when the humanity he’s so attracted to ultimately rejects him and he sets about reaping his revenge on his creator, it’s his civilisation that motivates him rather than some animalist brutality. Even in this earlier, apparently coarser version, it’s one of the best novels I’ve read.