Hideous Love | Stephanie Hemphill | Book Review

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

Hideous Love | Stephanie Hemphill | Book ReviewHideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill
Also by this author: A Crown of Wishes, Three Things I Know Are True
Published by Harper Collins on October 1st 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Biographical, European, Family, General, Love & Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

From Stephanie Hemphill, author of the Printz Honor winner Your Own, Sylvia and the acclaimed novel Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials, comes the fascinating story of gothic novelist Mary Shelley, most famous for the classic Frankenstein.
An all-consuming love affair with famed poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, a family torn apart by scandal, a young author on the brink of greatness: Hideous Love 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.
This luminous verse novel reveals how Mary Shelley became one of the most celebrated authors in history.

I get kind of excited about books that take on historical figures and really sort of bring them to life. I love learning about the lives of real people from the past. Stephanie Hemphill takes on the story of Mary Wollenstonecraft Shelley in Hideous Love, a young adult verse novel. I am on the fence about this book, I don’t necessarily agree with the not so positive reviews I’ve read BUT, I am not about to fawn all over Hideous Love, to me, it’s just an okay read and one that honestly won’t linger in my brain long after I finish typing this review.

Mary Shelley spends her early years at home with quite an overbearing family — her past is tragic. You see, her mother died when she was eleven days old. And yo, her mom was not just mom, but Mary fricken Wollenstonecraft, author of A Vindication Of The Rights Of Women, a book that if you’ve taken AP Euro you definitely know it’s significance to history. You might even say her mother is ALSO mother to the feminist movement. Oh yeah. So anyways, her dead old dad remarries this awful woman. And there’s a whole passel of children, none of whom have the same parents. However, Mary is clever and smart, and kind of pretty, but not as pretty as her half sister Jane. Anyways, she catches the eye of Percy Blysse Shelley, a famed poet. At first she rejects him, but then she runs away with him. Only, lolol, he’s still married to this other woman, Harriet. And, lololol, he can’t keep it in his pants and I am pretty sure he’s seeing Mary’s sister, Jane, aka Clare on the downlow. And so, Hideous Love is kind of about how Mary wrote Frankenstein but also about Mary Shelley’s crappy life from her teenage days all the way to the end of her love affair with Percy Blysse Shelley.

When I first started Hideous Love, I liked Mary Shelley. I thought she was tenacious and smart and awesome. But as she got more and more involved with Percy Blysse Shelley, who I’m just going to call Shelley for the rest of the review, I got bored with her. Like, she lost the spark because of ‘love’. And okay, she only gets marginally more interesting as she writes Frankenstein. I guess, maybe I am a product of modernity, as I did not find the motherhood bits interesting at all. And where the book could have been salacious and juicy, instead kind of falls flat as Mary mopes. And you know, I totally get that in the 1800s she probably could not have knocked her sister’s teeth out for checking out her man on the down low. I also get that her love for Shelley was ‘all-consuming’ but you guys, gag me. Seriously, gag me.

And you guys, I need to come out right now and say that I usually love verse books, so my disappointment does not lie in the fact that this is a verse book. Instead, I felt that with Hideous Love there was no real thrust to the story. Instead, the verse feels sluggish. I’ve read other reviews that state this book is slow paced and I actually really have to agree with that. Usually I whip through verse books and am astounded at how much emotion authors compound into so few words. Instead, I was astounded at how little was contained within this story. It really feels very surface, without much of an emotional connection. I mean, I am glad I know more about Mary Shelley because she truly is interesting, but I just, ugh, am underwhelmed by Hideous Love.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher


Proud Book Nerd – “this still gives valuable insight to a remarkable woman”
Book Strings – “It is more of an acquired taste”
Book YA Review – “I really, really enjoyed this book!”

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I haven’t been able to get into verse books, so I’ll probably stay away from this one. Now, if there was a book about Wollenstonecraft, that would be a whole other thing.