“The Devil’s Brood”: Wilson Library visit

At Wilson Library, we looked at a few different adaptations of Frankenstein. One particular adaptation that stuck out to me was a book titled “The Devil’s Brood: The New Adventures of Dracula, Frankenstein & the Universal Monsters” by David Jacobs. This book takes the iconic character of Frankenstein’s creature and uses it, along with other Universal “monsters,” to create a horror story. While I didn’t read the book, by looking at the front cover, the synopsis on the back cover (which is also used in the accompanying letter), and the other two books in the Universal Monsters trilogy, I was able to learn a lot about this Frankenstein adaptation.

The cover of the book clearly identifies what type of adaptation this novel is. Dark purple skies, an eerie full moon, spooky green fog, and four classic monsters give the cover a typical horror-story feel. Of the four monsters, there is a mummy with raised arms, the Wolf Man crouching on a bridge, classic Dracula with a long purple cloak, and the 1931 Frankenstein’s Monster with green skin and neck bolts. The Scooby-Doo like cover not only tells the reader that this novel is a horror story, but also makes me believe it is geared more towards younger readers, perhaps teens and young adults. Besides the title, there are two tag lines on the front cover: “Fear is Universal” and “A new novel of classic terror based on the Universal Monsters.” These two lines reinforce the book’s horror genre and identify the author’s intent of writing a new story utilizing characters that the readers are already familiar with. One specifically interesting thing about the title is that the creature is named “Frankenstein,” like it is often mistakenly done in pop culture, while in the original novel, Victor Frankenstein is the author that creates the unnamed monster.

The synopsis on the back of the book, which is also used in the publisher letter we saw at Wilson Library, tells a little bit about the storyline. As I suspected based on the book’s cover, Frankenstein’s monster, along with other classic monsters, are evil creatures that have “reawakened to torment the world.” We also learn by reading the synopsis that the protagonist is an American gangster.

By some of the phrasing in the synopsis, such as “reawakened” and “return,” made me wonder if this book was a part of a series. After a little research, I discovered that “The Devil’s Brood” is the second book in a trilogy based on classic Universal monsters. The first book, written by Jeff Rovin, is named “Return of the Wolfman,” and the third book is “The Devil’s Night” and was also written by David Jacobs. My guess is that Universal wanted to create new profitable material (without necessarily having to invest in new characters and stories) and hired different authors to create popular stories based on existing classic characters.

This novel was intriguing to me because it looks exactly like what I would expect from a Frankenstein adaptation. Although, after reading the 1818 book, I now realize that the popular 1931 movie version of Frankenstein is not as true to the original as I initially thought. However, as a young reader, I could definitely see myself reading this book and I’m sure it would have influenced the way I approached the character of Frankenstein’s creature.