Can you take a classic piece of horror literature, write a new take on it and not appear cheesy or arrogant? P.J. Parker has done just that.
Fire on the Water is about a researcher who is studying the life of Mary Shelley and particularly the summer she spent in Switzerland writing Frankenstein. The action switches back and forth between Mary in the past and Rachel in the present. As Rachel delves into the life and correspondence of Mary, the details of that summer begin to emerge. Mary husband, Percy Shelley, was gone with George Keats on an expedition into the Alps and Mary was staying in a hotel with their son, Willmouse. She has always had scientific interests and when attending a lecture, first encounters a mysterious doctor named Frankenstein.
Her friend, Dr. Polidori begins spending time in Switzerland with her and is asked by the local gendarmes to help investigate a series of gruesome murders in the area. As Mary continues writing her “ghost story” as she calls it, reality and fiction become confused.
Rachel, trying to reconstruct these times through Mary’s letters, begins to have strange suspicions of what happened that summer and as things in her time begin to parallel Mary’s time, she also begins to wonder about the line between reality and fiction.
I loved this story. I thought it was masterfully written and as it moves to its conclusion, it picks up a momentum that just about forbids you to put it down. Rachel’s character was completely believable and completely sympathetic. This was a real tribute to the original Frankenstein.