THE DARK DESCENT OF ELIZABETH FRANKENSTEIN
By: Kiersten White
Published By: Delacorte Press
Release Date: Sept. 25, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reading Level: Young Adult
Buy the Book: Amazon
Goodreads 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.
First Thought After Finishing: What a story! Dark descent indeed.
I love retellings that show a familiar story from a new angle. Add to that the fact that Kiersten White is a brilliant storyteller, and this book was one of my highly anticipated reads. And the book did not disappoint!
Elizabeth Lavenza has spent almost all of her life being everything that Victor Frankenstein needs. Orphaned at an early age and rescued from cruel caretakers to be Victor’s companion, Elizabeth perfected the art of denying who she was to make sure that Victor was okay. When Victor goes away to study and hasn’t written in months, Elizabeth knows that she has to find him and bring him home. Only she wasn’t prepared for what she finds on the journey. And even if he does return home, can life ever really return to normal?
Anyone familiar with the original Frankenstein story will find much to appreciate about Kiersten White’s retelling, but even if you’ve never read the original, this book is a well-conceived story in its own right. I loved the style of the book—from the language to the interspersed flashbacks to the commentary on human nature. Elizabeth is a fascinating narrator. She admits that she is flawed, a con artist of the highest degree, and yet one cannot help but want her to succeed. She is driven by passion, devotion, and self-preservation, and whatever else she may be, she is determined to be a survivor. In a world that would have been hopeless for a female orphan like herself, she created her own version of hope—sometimes monstrous in its own right.
Almost all of the characters in this novel have a depth to them that is not immediately present but that is revealed over the course of the book. I enjoyed reading about the relationships that were formed between the characters; friends became family, and in certain instances, family became something beautifully, almost horrifyingly, more. Chilling depictions of deserted city buildings combined with knowledge of nineteenth-century life and language pervade this book with a haunting quality that lingers far after one has turned the last page.
If you want to read about the depravity of the human mind alongside the triumph of the human spirit, this is the book for you. Although the story itself does not offer many surprises, particularly to those who know the Frankenstein story, the emotional journeys of the characters made for very compelling reading. If you like Victorian horror stories or have ever thought of trying one, look no further!
Most Memorable Aspect: The thought-provoking analysis of human nature and the blurred lines between good and evil.
KIERSTEN WHITE is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, the And I Darken series, comprised of And I Darken, Now I Rise, and Bright We Burn; the Paranormalcy series; Slayer, and many more novels. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, which, in spite of its perfection, spurs her to dream of faraway places and even further-away times. Visit her at www.kierstenwhite.com.
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