The Monsters of St. Helena is the imagined world of the former great Emperor Napoleon while in his place of last exile, St. Helena - an island inhabited by English expatriates and the descendants of Portuguese settlers and their slaves. There is even a haunting of sorts on the island: Fernando Lopez. He also haunts the novel.
Bonaparte arrived with a retinue of fifteen hundred people, upsetting the delicate balance of the island's inhabitants - particularly the slaves, who see “Bony” as a white devil. Once ensconced in a charming teahouse surrounded by fruit trees, he settles down to pen his memoirs and contemplate the way his life has turned out and the way that it will end. A fearless teenage girl sees through the bravado of a great man who has been humbled and manages to connect with the remains of the hero with no more worshippers.
Brooks Hansen did bounteous amounts of research, not only into Napoleon’s past but also into the heart and soul of the island of St. Helena. He makes good use of his research as the glorious settings and local lore add a patina of truth to the well-fictionalized storyline.
The plot is well-written and kept on track. The dialogue is appropriate to the time period without distracting from the story. The secondary characters are well used to convey emotions the great Napoleon cannot.
The Monsters of St. Helena is well crafted and leaves readers wondering how close this comes to the last days of legendary Napoleon and feeling a bit sorry for him if it does.