The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (Fierce Reads)
Release Date: April 13, 2021
Cover Designer: Rich Deas
Summary: New girl Rachel Chavez is eager to make a fresh start at Manchester Prep. But as one of the few scholarship kids, Rachel struggles to fit in, and when she gets caught up in a prank gone awry, she ends up with more enemies than friends.
To her surprise, however, the prank attracts the attention of the Mary Shelley Club, a secret club of students with one objective: come up with the scariest prank to orchestrate real fear. But as the pranks escalate, the competition turns cutthroat and takes on a life of its own.
When the tables are turned and someone targets the club itself, Rachel must track down the real-life monster in their midst . . . even if it means finally confronting the dark secrets from her past.
[Received a digital ARC through a giveaway]
My Rating: ★★★★★
My Thoughts: The Mary Shelley Club is a superb YA Thriller that follows Rachel Chavez as she finds herself getting tangled up in a club obsessed with horror! Easily one of my new favorite books, this one-of-a-kind novel features scary movie references, horror tropes, and a gripping plot that will keep you captivated start to finish. Don’t miss this 2021 release!
The Mary Shelley Club is a brilliantly crafted piece of fiction that pays homage to the horror genre, while simultaneously interweaving a personal journey of a girl who’s finding a place to belong.
Moldavsky sinks readers into the story through a writing style that evokes a chilling, dark, suspenseful atmosphere which makes you feel as though you’ve transported yourself into a classic horror flick. This is made clear through the opening scene of a terrifying home break-in that leaves main character Rachel transferring to a school in Manhattan.
Rachel is the newest student at Manchester Prep and has a keen obsession with horror films. Although she’s struggling to find her place, she’s struck a solid friendship with Saundra, who knows all the latest gossip and hang outs. After attending a party at a supposed haunted house that featured a séance and a ghost story, Rachel learns its echoed the work of a mysterious school prankster.
Desperate to forge some sort of connection to her new school, she quickly pieces together the clues leading her to uncover an intriguing, secretive on-campus society called…The Mary Shelley Club.
Desperate to forge some sort of connection to her new school, she quickly pieces together the clues leading her to uncover an intriguing, secretive on-campus society called The Mary Shelley Club. Now among their ranks, she bonds over her love of horror flicks with film club aficionado Freddie Martinez, popular jock Bram Wilding, mysterious bookworm Felicity Chu, and comedian Thayer Turner. She swiftly learns why the group keeps such tight-knit and deliberate boundaries…they orchestrate “Fear Tests” meant to terrify their classmates through elaborate pranks based on classic horror tropes.
However, when an unknown prankster begins to infiltrate their tests and take things too far, the secrecy of this tight-knit group and her new-found friends may be exposed!
Rachel Chavez is a curious, perceptive fan of the horror genre who is ultimately figuring out where she fits in. Using horror movies as a coping mechanism, she hopes to desensitize herself to the scary, chilling frights of fiction in order to overcome her own trauma. I loved Rachel so much, she’s clever, sarcastic, but not afraid to tap into her own monstrous side in order to keep to the truths of her past coming to light. There are no words to describe what a fascinating main character she was.
There’s a comfort that she feels as she connects with the club with their regularly scheduled weekly nights of watching horror movies together, even the secretive thrill of pulling of elaborate pranks inspired by the category of film they love so much. There’s an unsaid bond that forms between them and Moldavsky makes that a highlight of Rachel’s journey. I liked Rachel’s relationship with Freddie a lot, being the only Latino students as well there’s an emphasis on that connection.
A rather big element of this novel involves masks, both literally and figuratively. The club is an unlikely one, each member from different social circles of the school, they are passionate about this group and are genuinely there for one another. There’s a deep bond that connects them, however there are unsaid secrets that Rachel learns show who they truly are when not confined to their circle and its interesting learning more about that through each of them, especially Bram. Loved seeing the friendship and deeper connections she creates with her group members who all become like a little family!
Moldavsky’s writing uniquely conjures a familiarity of the genre while at the same time intertwining the notes of dark academia, thriller, and horror all at once. It’s in her sharp, descriptive language that evokes the feeling of watching a scary thriller or horror movie. You get chills and are engrossed by the mystery, fear, and frights of TMC.
There’s a page-turning quality to these kinds of stories and Moldavsky keeps that momentum going throughout the entirety of the novel, up until the intense ending. Written in first-person POV, you get that chilling atmosphere and detailed note that paints this as a classic horror-thriller story, and the inclusion of specific chapters from the perspective of the “Fear Test” target further envelops you in that feeling.
Honestly there’s nothing I can personally say I disliked. While I knew this book would become a favorite, it surprised me, especially as someone whose never really been able to get into horror. If anything, I probably would have loved more scenes of Rachel connecting with the club. I truly hope this novel does not go under the radar, so if you love clever storytelling, dark academia vibes, and just a top-tier thriller PICK THIS BOOK UP!
The Mary Shelley Club is a captivating, page-turning YA Thriller/Horror novel that will immerse you from page 1! Fantastically chilling read with a well-developed cast of characters, frights, horror references galore, and a tightly-plotted story that engages you with each chapter. Moldavsky has presented a brilliant, masterfully crafted novel that is an homage to the horror genre!