Books & Literature

Book Review: Prometheus High: How To Make A Monster, by Stuart Wilson

MIDDLE GRADE: A hugely inventive, action-packed, fun and quirky – and occasionally dark – adventure for fans of Skulduggery Pleasant, Nevermoor or Frankenstein.

Quirky, funny, and more than a little macabre.

Attention all middle school misfits! If you’ve ever thought you’re just a bit different from your peers, it’s time to meet Athena Strange, the ultimate misfit. Athena’s attempts to reanimate her neighbour’s dead cat attract the attention of some very unusual teachers, who recruit her for their equally unusual school, Prometheus High.

Prometheus High: How To Make A Monster is quirky, funny, and more than a little macabre. Though drawing heavily from early horror and science fiction, particularly Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this story hits the funny bone more often than the terrifying one, with macabre elements at times exaggerated into absurdity. Stuart Wilson said in a recent interview that “horror is inextricably linked to comedy” and this certainly comes across in his writing.

The characters are larger than life and unique, their traits amplified in the way fiction for youth tends to be, with broader strokes of personality but fewer details in general. That’s not to say that the characters lack any sort of nuance, however. Athena and Godfrey, the story’s two main characters, are drawn with more detail and have strengths and fears that heavily influence their actions. The character list also includes some nice diversity, including a non-binary character and a character (Godfrey) with a physical disability. In both instances these elements are neither their entire personality nor a point of pity, which is nice to see.

The ‘teamwork’ message in the story felt a little heavy-handed at times, as though the author felt obligated to include a moral to the story because it’s aimed at youth. However, despite this, the story overall flowed well and the teamwork element is tied into the story in an important way. Curiously, there is no mention of any ethical dilemma in regards to creating monsters out of dead bodies or bringing corpses back to life. Perhaps this is something to look for in the sequel.

Overall, Prometheus High: How To Make A Monster was a fun read and Athena and Godfrey were both interesting characters to follow. Highly recommended for middle graders who like something a little quirky but perhaps aren’t quite ready for Shelley’s original classic.

Reviewed by Kristin Stefanoff

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: March 2022
RRP: $16.99

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