Early Review – Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill

Posted July 20, 2013 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA / 5 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Hideous Love by Stephanie HemphillHideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 1st 2013
Pages: 320
Genres: Fairy-Tales/Retellings, Historical Fiction, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss


From award-winning author Stephanie Hemphill comes the fascinating story of Mary Shelley, a brilliant teenager who wrote one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all time: Frankenstein.

An all-consuming love affair.

A family torn apart by scandal.

A young author on the brink of greatness.

Hideous Love is the fascinating story of Gothic novelist Mary Shelley, who as a teen girl fled her restrictive home only to find herself in the shadow of a brilliant but moody boyfriend, famed poet Percy Shelley. It is the story of the mastermind behind one of the most iconic figures in all of literature: a monster constructed out of dead bodies and brought to life by the tragic Dr. Frankenstein.

Mary wrote Frankenstein at the age of nineteen, but inspiration for the monster came from her life-the atmospheric European settings she visited, the dramas swirling around her, and the stimulating philosophical discussions with the greatest minds of the period, like her close friend, Lord Byron.

This luminous verse novel from award-winning author Stephanie Hemphill reveals how Mary Shelley became one of the most celebrated authors in history.

‘November brightens my spirit
as I let go my fears
and agree to travel
to London to be with my Shelley.
I visit Skinner Street
and the Hunts.
Also History of a Six Weeks Tour,
my first book, appears this month,
again with an anonymous author.’


I didn’t go into this surprised that this was verse and immediately discount it. I adore novels written in verse (well, as long as they’re well done.) When done right, novels written in verse have the ability to evoke such beautiful emotion, flawlessly. Verse is essentially narrative poetry: beautiful words that flow, words that can hold you captive in their power, but words that also tell a tale.

I understand that verse is the next big writing style, but verse writing requires a certain finesse. You’re not just telling a tale and you can’t take your sentences, chop them up into tiny bits and format them to appear as poetry and call it verse. To me, this is exactly what happened with Hideous Love. The writing was choppy and stilted and didn’t allow me to connect with the story. It also lacked any sort of emotion, which is the most vital and important part of a verse novel. There were no beautiful descriptive passages, it was simply a long line of ‘this happened, then this happened, then this, and now that.’

Suffice it to say, I was extremely disappointed. I think choosing to write this novel in verse was a huge decision and definitely the wrong one. Unfortunately, I don’t recommend this one at all.



5 responses to “Early Review – Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill

  1. Sam

    From that snippet you shared, it really does seem like the author just cut the sentence up and formatted it to poetry form. If the rest is anything like that, I can't see myself enjoying this too much! I agree with Jennifer – it's a great concept, but it's a shame that the execution fell short.

    Sorry this was such a disappointment, Bonnie, but thanks for the helpful review!
    My recent post Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

  2. Oh bummer. I have this one to review and man…I'm bummed it is getting such a poor response. 🙁 I have yet to see anything positive about this book. thank you for the honest review.
    My recent post Showcase Sunday #15

  3. Christina

    Bahahaha, okay, so I reviewed Sisters of Glass by this author in 2011 and really wasn't a fan. Basically, I felt like the "verse" was just prose chopped into approximately equal lines. Ummm, no. The way I read verse is with a pause at the end of each line, so it's really obvious if it's not flowing right. I'm really skeptical of verse for this reason, but I'm going to try a couple soon. I really liked Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay.
    My recent post Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #23: All the Truth That's in Me

  4. Michael

    Sounds terrible, I'm a huge Frankenstein/Mary Shelley fan so I was thinking about reading this one. I guess I'll pass
    My recent post Book Review: Joyland

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