Mini Review: “Unwieldy Creatures” by Addie Tsai

Release Date: August 2, 2022
Publisher: Jaded Ibis Press
Genre: Science Fiction


Unwieldy Creatures, a biracial, queer, gender-swapped retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic novel Frankenstein, follows the story of three beings who all navigate life from the margins: Plum, a queer biracial Chinese intern at one of the world’s top embryology labs, who runs away from home to openly be with her girlfriend only to be left on her own; Dr. Frank, a queer biracial Indonesian scientist, who compromises everything she claims to love in the name of science and ambition when she sets out to procreate without sperm or egg; and Dr. Frank’s nonbinary creation who, painstakingly brought into the world, is abandoned due to complications at birth that result from a cruel twist of revenge. Plum struggles to determine the limits of her own ambition when Dr. Frank offers her a chance to assist with her next project. How far will Plum go in the name of scientific advancement and what is she willing to risk?

My Thoughts

This is a fascinating take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It takes the classic science fiction horror story and runs it through the lenses of queerness, being biracial, gender identity, and messy family relationships, among others. In this version, Frankenstein’s monster is a nonbinary child born to Dr. Frank through IVF. Plum, who, like the child, was also abandoned by someone they cared about, is a scientist at an embryology lab. She gets entangled with Dr. Frank and things spiral out of control from there. 

Between the footnotes and Chinese characters, the text is a visual treat. And the characters are compelling, unique, and thoroughly engrossing. Even in moments when I felt like the story flagged a bit, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading the story. 

Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Tsai is a good book for anyone looking for some queer in their horror, as well as fans of Frankenstein.

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