Monday, December 10, 2018

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein - Kiersten White

Summary: Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver," and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything--except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable--and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth's survival depends on managing Victor's dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.
 (Summary and pic from

My Review: This is my second original story re-telling of the year, and apparently that’s become a thing now. While fairytale re-tellings are still coming out and still tons of fun (I have one upcoming review in a month that’s a fun read, so look for that!) but now we’ve moved into re-tellings of original horror stories. This isn’t your Pride and Prejudice and Zombies fare, but more like a re-imagining and fleshing out of a story. The first one I read, The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow was a fun new take, and I think this one is also fun and worth a read.

And now it is time to confess that I haven’t actually read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It’s a tragedy, I know. I did download it onto my phone’s kindle app, but I don’t like reading on devices cause I’m an old-fashioned gal. That being said, I have read extensive summaries and lived a whole lifetime immersed in the story of Frankenstein (haven’t we all?) so I feel like I wasn’t at a complete loss as to the original story and how this differed from it.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is told from the point of view of Elizabeth Frankenstein which, as you might know, is not how the original story is, although I can imagine that if it were en vogue at the time and had Shelley chosen to do it via first person female, I’m sure she would have had an epic female protagonist. That being said, the Elizabeth Frankenstein of this novel was smart, cunning, and a woman who had to do the best with what she was given in her circumstances. This novel is certainly a horror novel (although nothing too horrible or grotesque happens in gory detail), and Elizabeth plays a large part in that. She is a character you admire but also feel sorry for, as are many of the characters in this book.

The story itself is interesting in that it isn’t exactly like you’re seeing a direct focus on Frankenstein and his monster, but more like that story is happening and your focus is off to the side, so although you are aware and definitely read about and take part in some Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster story, it is often done on the peripheral, just out of focus but present enough to be scary and somewhat disturbing in that you can’t just see it straight on. I found this to be an interesting perspective and I liked the somewhat frantic feelings it created for Elizabeth because as a reader you are well aware of what is going on just from being familiar with the original Frankenstein, but she doesn’t know it and she is discovering for the first time. In this sense you are both introduced to a re-telling of the old classic as well as offered a different viewpoint on what was going on.

The end of this book is a little bit strange, and I’m going to be super vague here. I found it to be somewhat unrealistic, but then again, when you’re reading about Frankenstein and all the things he created, I guess unrealistic and strange has to be overlooked. It didn’t seem consistent to the rest of the book, though, even though I did appreciate what was happening and how the characters fared.

Overall, I would say this is a fun addition to the Frankenstein story. I don’t think it will be a long-time classic like the original Shelley, but it was certainly accessible and vivid, and a fun read for when you’re looking for something spooky and in the horror genre minus the excessive descriptive gore.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: This is a horror novel, but all things considered, it is pretty clean.

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