After the death of her mother, college professor Clara Fitzgerald comes to realize she has been supporting her fiancé Anthony’s career as a research scientist at the expense of her own. With his work on a developing anti-cancer drug, Anthony is not only gaining prestige but also becoming obsessed with it at the expense of their relationship. A DNA test revels her mother’s assertions were correct and Clara is related to Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. Joined by her flighty sister Maxie, Clare begins a journey of discovery with the aid of Shelley scholar Dr. Kay McNally. As Clara digs deeper into the past she realizes Anthony’s behavior is becoming not only more distant but also more dangerous and attempts to warn him off the direction he is going. It is a warning Anthony ignores as he sacrifices ethics on the alter of success forcing Clara to reevaluate her choices and make some discoveries of her own.
Rendell effectively blends ethics and genetic issues with a warmly told story of self-discovery and growth to create a winning combination. Smoothly paced with flawlessly developed characters and a couple of strong subplots, this explores the nature of “true” monsters just as Shelly’s masterpiece.