Still not as good as the first Lady Janie book. A lot of this made no sense, and anachronisms were flying around willy-nilly, but I had a good time.
My Imaginary Mary is what you get when you mix light fantasy (there are fairies! and Mary Godwin (Shelley) is one! (different kind of fairy than you’d expect)), alternate history (what if Mary met Ada Lovelace?), and a truly ridiculous sensibility (they invent the name Peter Pan for some reason?) with egregious unconcern for historical accuracy.
The plot kicks off when Mary attends a show (? they call it something else in the book) by a dirtbag scientist who seems to be attempting to reanimate the corpse of frogs by electrifying them. Mostly this just means there are a lot of crispy dead frogs, but when Mary accidentally brings one of the frogs back to life for real—in front of the audience, though they don’t know it was her—she makes herself a target. Meanwhile, Ada Lovelace (daughter of Lord Byron) is also an inventor/scientist, and she has created an automaton. When the two girls meet and become friends, one thing leads to another and whoops, PAN is a real boy now.
The whole point of this series is to give famous historical women better stories, to fix history, but I find myself wishing here that it was less fantastical, and that they would have fixed history for Mary Shelley in a more realistic way. This is probably unfair of me, because it feels a lot like wanting it to just be a different type of book.
Worth noting, the real Mary Shelley lived a messy, complicated life, and this book de-complicates her in a way that is semi-troubling. Yes, it’s YA, but maybe don’t write about a messy young woman if you don’t want to write about a messy young woman. And as much as I personally think Percy Shelley and Lord Byron were terrible people, they also caricaturize them, as well.