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Death's Enemy

352 pages

Mary Shelley's classic Frankenstein gives a few clues as to Dr Frankenstein's background: he was born in Geneva, studied at the University of Ingolstadt in Bavaria and spent time working as a doctor in Scotland. From these fragments, George Rosie has constructed a wonderful historical novel, tracing Frankenstein's career up to the point at which he begins work on the monster that bears his name. We see Frankenstein's developing obsession with, and fear of, death, his fascination with the writings of the medieval alchemists, his study of the medical uses of electricity in Bavaria, and his work with the bodysnatching doctors of 18th century Glasgow. Rosie's Frankenstein is a man of his time, the range of his scientific interests bears comparison with a Faraday; his appetite for women with a Boswell. A wonderful tour de force that wears its learning with a delightful lightness, this is one of the most engaging historical novels for a long time.

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Death's Enemy