The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

9780525577942Kiersten White’s The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frakenstein is a YA Horror retelling of the classic horror story, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.

I’ll admit, I’ve never read Frankenstein in its entirety due to my distaste for the epistolary style novel when I was younger, but since I’ve read Dracula,  I’d like to give Frankenstein another go now that I have a new appreciation for journal entries and letters in writing. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is not written in the same format as it’s classic counterpart, so if you hate journal entries, don’t worry. You also don’t need to know anything about the original story in order to follow this one.

Everything is told from Elizabeth Lavenza’s perspective— a young woman who was adopted into the Frankenstein family at a young age, and who is Victor Frankenstein’s love interest from the original. The great thing about a retelling is you get to experience everything through the eyes of a new character and see the story in a whole new light. Kiersten White does this well with Elizabeth, who wants nothing more than to be reunited with her beloved Victor, whom she hasn’t heard from in months. Through flashbacks, we get to see glimpses into Elizabeth’s relationship with Victor, and how she became such an important part of the family.

In Elizabeth’s eyes, Victor can do no wrong, but as the story progresses and the dark secrets from the past come out to play, you start to see that Victor may not be the genius Elizabeth thinks he is. His genius has turned to madness, and Elizabeth must deal with the consequences of both of their actions. As we know from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor has created a monster from human parts, but who is the monster in this story, and who is the man? That is what the reader and Elizabeth must find out for themselves.

This book stunned me with it’s well-written prose and round/twisted characters. Elizabeth is such a strong character, and so flawed! Oh my gosh, she’s such a morally grey character, and I love, love, love her! Her character is a breath of fresh air. She’s intelligent, manipulative, she knows she’s attractive and uses her looks to her advantage, and she’s not afraid to do what’s necessary for the people she loves.

“…I had ceased feeling guilty long ago. Words and stories were tools to elicit the desired reactions in other, and I was an expert craftswoman” (p. 11).

Then there’s Victor Frankenstein, whose actions in this novel lead me to believe he is a psychopath. He doesn’t feel any remorse or guilt over what he’s done; he doesn’t care about anyone in his family; he only cares about one person— Elizabeth. She’s the only one who “understands” him, and his feelings for her can only be described as obsessive.

“Someday death will claim you. And I will not allow it.” His eyes narrowed, and his voice trembled with fury and determination. “You are mine Elizabeth Lavenza, and nothing will take you away from me. Not even death” (p. 92).

Boy needs to CHILL.

There’s a reason why this book is called The Dark Descent: Kiersten White takes Elizabeth on a dark path and never relents through the whole story. If you don’t like dark stories, then this novel isn’t for you. I’d still suggest you read it, though, because it’s THAT good.

I devoured this book in two days.

TWO DAYS!

I finished this book a month ago, and it’s taken me this long to write a review because this book is so shockingly good, I needed time to recuperate after the last chapter. I then went back and reread the first five chapters to make sure I wasn’t crazy.

I’m not. This book is fantastic. Read it, and let me know about your thoughts in the comments.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

 ★★★★★

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. The novel is well-written, the characters are deliciously twisted and morally gray, and I loved every minute of it. If you’ve read Frankenstein, you should read this book; if you haven’t read Frankenstein (me), you should read this book; and if you hated Frankenstein, READ.THIS.BOOK!

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