Book: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein | Author: Kiersten White | Publisher: Delacorte Press | Release Date: 25th September, 2018 | Pages: 304
What’s it about?
Elizabeth Lavenza joins the Frankenstein family at a very young age. She is adopted mainly to be a friend to the Frankenstein’s son, Victor, a highly intelligent, though very angry boy. They soon become inseperable and protect each other, no matter the cost. This gets more dangerous the older they get and the more Victor’s mind spirals into madness.
What did I think?
This retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein did not only tell the story of Victor Frankenstein’s adoptive sister Elizabeth, but makes so much more out of the story. It makes Elizabeth the main character and also changes a few things. I hope I don’t spoil anything if you haven’t read the original story yet, but Kiersten White manages to ever so subtly make another person than the monster the villain. As reader, I did not fully expect it and I did not realize it at first, either. There were a few changes here and there, but at first they were no major changes and I thought it would probably have the same ending. The thing is, with Kiersten White, you never know who’s going to die.
At first, I had a few problems to get into the story. There is not much explanation at first, the reader gets thrown into the story right away. Necessities you need to know from the past are told in retrospect and I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of that. Especially when it’s long passages told like this. This always brings me out of my reading rhythm. I really had to read through them, which annoyed me sometimes. But they gave an insight on Victor and Elizabeth’s relationship and how it changes, goes from like-minded children to friendship and eventually to love.
I really liked Elizabeth, though. She is dependent on Victor and he on her which complicates a lot of things. Elizabeth has learned to survive at an early and by now she does what’s need to be done without thinking much about it. She appears to be calculating and sometimes a bit harsh, but she also has a heart for the people in need, especially abuse victims. As the story develops and Elizabeth uncovers more and more secrets, she somehow gets another sense of awareness for her surroundings and she uses her sharp mind not only to survive but to act according to at least some kind of morality.
Victor though. He is brilliant and has quite the temperament. From an early age on he has no qualms about killing animals and hurting people, trying to discover the secrets behind life. We all do know that he succeeds in his studies of making dead flesh live again (we all know the monster, don’t we?). And he sees where he made mistakes and wants to right them, though he just dives deep into madness. Kiersten White really managed to portray this process in a beautiful, but haunting way. It really gave me goosebumps.
All that said, I have to say that I found this book extremely fascinating, despite my inital problems. It was dark and haunting, toying with the idea of immortality and madness. It featured strong female characters, each in their own way. And the story showed that you cannot always see the foul inside a person, or the beauty in a foul body. If I may say so, Mary Shelley would be proud.