Gris Grimly's Frankenstein

Common Sense Media says

Illustrated version puts fresh, surreal spin on classic.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of the cornerstone works of Gothic literature. Gris Grimly's abridgement makes the story more accessible to modern readers, retaining some of the archaic prose but illustrating the action with drawings that are by turns whimsical, grotesque and surreal.

Positive messages

In creating his creature, Victor Frankenstein flouts the natural order and pays a terrible price. As a novel, Frankenstein emphasizes that pride goes before a fall and that some of God's secrets are not meant to be known by humankind.

Positive role models

To the modern reader, the title character of Frankenstein may not seen particularly sympathetic. Prideful, arrogant, and stubborn, Victor Frankenstein digs up corpses to build his Creature and is surprised when his work turns out to be an abomination in the eyes of nearly everyone. He pays a terrible price for his hubris, however, and by the end of the book, most readers will have pity for him.


There's plenty of violence in Griss Grimly's Frankenstein, including strangulations, an unjust execution, and murder by arson. Many of these events happen "offstage," but when they are depicted, their bloodiness is undercut by the cartoonish nature of the illustrations. Readers sophisticated enough to deal with Mary Shelley's prose are unlikely to be upset.


Frankenstein and his cousin Elizabeth are childhood sweethearts. As adults, they marry, with disastrous results. Whatever sexual content this abridgement has, it's  pretty well hidden.


Characters mention hell and damnation in their literal religious meanings.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Gris Grimly's Frankenstein is a lavishly illustrated abridgement of Mary Shelley's classic novel. It uses portions of the original 1818 text and incorporates Grimly's distinctive drawings, which are by turns grotesque, whimsical, and surreal. Although there's plenty of violence (including strangulations, an unjust execution, and murder by arson), much of it happens "offstage," and any depicted bloodiness is undercut by the cartoonish nature of the accompanying illustrations. Gris Grimly's Frankenstein may serve as a welcoming gateway to a deep and rich literary tradition for adventurous teen readers.

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What's the story?

Victor Frankenstein is determined to unlock the secrets of life and death, and his experiments lead him to create a gigantic, terrifying creature out of dug-up body parts. Everybody views the Creature as an abomination, but all he wants is to live in peace somewhere with a female version of himself. The Creature promises to exact a terrible vengeance on Frankenstein unless the scientist creates another monster to serve as his soul mate. But is Frankenstein willing to loose another Creature upon the world?

Is it any good?


Mary Shelley's original novel is a classic of Gothic horror, still enthralling after two centuries. Its language and narrative structure can be daunting for young modern readers, however, and GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN finds a way to make the story accessible without tossing Shelley's distinctive prose aside. The tension between the florid, archaic writing and Grimly's stylized, grotesque, and somehow whimsical illustrations creates a unique and engaging reading experience. It won't be to the tastes of purists, but Gris Grimly's Frankenstein may serve as a welcoming gateway to a deep and rich literary tradition for adventurous teen readers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about about Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, and how it remains so powerful after almost two centuries. Why do you think it's been adapted so many times in books, movies, and TV shows?

  • Is it possible to both fear and pity Frankenstein's Creature? Are his violent actions understandable in any way?

  • Do you think there are subjects that scientists should not investigate, for fear of upsetting some kind of "natural order"?

Book details

Author:Mary Shelley
Illustrator:Gris Grimly
Topics:Adventures, History, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires, Science and nature
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Balzer + Bray
Publication date:August 27, 2013
Number of pages:208
Available on:Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of Gris Grimly's Frankenstein was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byklthomp33 November 7, 2013

Extremly awesome

I love him. He is original and extrremly talented.
What other families should know
Educational value
Educator Written byDeedubfry November 7, 2013

Love this book.

Great re-telling of the classic story. Gets kids interested in reading the classics.
What other families should know
Educational value
Parent Written byMpirata November 8, 2013

Great story and great graphic art

Everybody knows the story. Filosofie meets fantasy. And great graphics! My son loves it as I also do. He is 8


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