The Remarkable Miss Frankenstein
by Minda Webber, historical/paranormal (2005)
LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52637-9
Nothing makes a more disappointing meal than a debut effort. Ripping it to shreds is like kicking babies until they cry - too easy, really, and not as fun as one would expect. The smartest thing Minda Webber did in her debut The Remarkable Miss Frankenstein is to write this cute little note warning readers not to expect historical accuracy, moral, and logic. Quoting Mark Twain is probably overreaching things a little for Ms Webber, but really, take that as a warning from this author: logic is not something present here. And no, don't write to me telling me that the author is planning to do a satire - I don't buy that kind of reasoning because you can't claim to do satire when you're trying to pass off stupidity as the new cute, not without everyone dying from a nuclear bomb explosion or something like that at the end.
The thing is, Ms Webber is aware of how atrociously, monstrously, and supremely moronic her heroine Clair Frankenstein is. The hero Harold Ian Huntsley makes note of this when Clair, believing Ian to be a vampire, breaks into his basement in the middle of the night to examine his coffin. Never mind that the reasons she has for him being a vampire (or for other people being werewolves or other creatures) are some of the most ridiculous nonsense ever, really, because did I mention that she breaks into a supposed-vampire's home in the middle of the night alone and with no clear ability to defend herself? Luckily for her, Ian is no vampire, although he has his secrets. While he is at first aware of how mentally crippled Clair is, soon Ms Webber has him and other secondary characters pushing the whole "Clair may be stupid but she is cute and ooh, look at how she stomps her dainty feet like that!" agenda down my throat as Ian runs off to rescue Clair again and again from her monstrous kamikaze missions.
Here's the thing. There must be a dozen of new authors coming out with debut efforts every month and many of them are so enamored of how precious their heroines are as they run into danger with nary a care in these heroines' witless heads that they forget that the rest of the world may not appreciate these heroines. So what makes Ms Webber's debut effort any better than those self-indulgent debut efforts from authors who forget that the reader may not "see" the story the way they see it? Well, there are the amusing and sometimes clever spot-the-cameo moments from Edgar Allen Poe to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well as the author's punning of everything from lyrics of the Beatles and other cheesier material, but even all these becomes old when it's clear that the romance is never going to be anything more than Clair acting like one big stupid baby and Ian lowering himself to her level in the name of true love.
This book is merely a novelty, and only a half-decent one at that, kinda like a stand-up comedy act where the performer thinks that she's far more entertaining than she really is while the audience stare at her in stupefied befuddlement. The Remarkable Miss Frankenstein offers some odd chuckles here and there for me, but on the whole, the namedroppings and the attempts to cram in references to everything remotely paranormal ever written in English literature are mere gift wrappings to hide the coal of a story underneath. This story gets a pass from me, but it makes the grade by the skin of its fangs. Er, teeth.
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