Review: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White


Publication: September 25th 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 304 pages
Source: Bookmobile
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Retelling, Horror, Historical Fiction, YA
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤

Published two hundred years after Mary Shelley’s immortal Frankenstein, Kiersten White seeks to retell the story we all know and love from an unlikely new perspective.

Elizabeth Lavenza owes everything to the Frankenstein’s for bringing her into their home and away from the cruel life she used to live, but mainly she owes her life to Victor. He is the reason she was brought in by the Frankenstein’s, to keep him happy, to be his Elizabeth, and Elizabeth is more than happy to be his. Being Victor’s is better than being poor, or on the street, or being abused as she was as a child. But Elizabeth hasn’t heard from Victor in two years and she doesn’t hold the same affection in Judge Frankenstein’s eyes as she does Victor’s. So Elizabeth must save herself by saving Victor, but will she be able to?

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein was such a good book and definitely one of my favourites for 2018; though I didn’t think it would while I was reading it. I was surprised with White’s characterization of Elizabeth but not unhappy with it. I was so used to the sweet and innocent golden angel that Shelley created that the intelligent if not devious Elizabeth of White’s work gave me a shock. Don’t be alarmed, Elizabeth is still all the things Shelley made her to be, but White makes her more, adds a depth that she lacks in the original story. But it didn’t feel out of character how White wrote her, if anything it felt like something Shelley would do, maybe would do had she written from Elizabeth’s perspective. I’ve always been fascinated by Elizabeth’s character since first reading Shelley’s work, and White does an excellent job breathing life into her and giving her layers.

White does take quite a lot of artistic liberties with the plot of Frankenstein, especially nearing the end of the book and I won’t lie the changes did bother me. I adore Mary Shelly and Frankenstein and to read these large changes did originally put a lower rating in my mind for White’s new novel. But then I read her Author’s Note, and the changes so much more sense. If anything it made me enjoy White’s novel and the changes she’s made so that I could understand them in a new light, it definitely changed my original rating of the book.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a tribute to Mary Shelly as woman and creator as well as the perfect feminist read. White continues to grow and astound me as a writer, and I can’t wait for whatever more she has in store.



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