Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein Review

Title: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
Author: Kiersten White
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I finished Seafire on Sunday night after returning from visiting my in-laws, and since The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein had holds on it, I decided to push it to the top of my library stack. I love reading horror books in preparation for autumn and Halloween; for me, fall has always meant the onset of horror and all things spooky. Now, I’ll start this review officially by being honest: I’ve never read Frankenstein. Though I am familiar with the source material through pop culture, I haven’t yet read the book. Nonetheless, I do think that what I do know of, White does the magnificent and extraordinary justice to the original story, all the while creating something totally new. I will be forever captivated by this tale of twisted love, obsession, and madness, and Elizabeth’s dark, desperate heart and desire to be secure, no matter the means. I’ve read Kiersten White’s other series, Paranormalcy, but I think this book takes its place as my favorite. I’m so happy that I have And I Darken waiting for me on my shelves, because I need more of her work! The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is one of my favorite books of 2018; terrifying, thoughtful, and beautifully written, I loved this new take on a classic, touching on a character who fades into the background in the original: Doctor Victor Frankenstein’s wife.

Elizabeth Lavenza has not had an easy life, by any stretch of the imagination. Raised by a cruel and wicked woman, she finds purpose and love when Madame Frankenstein takes her in as the family’s ward. Hiding ambition and wickedness behind beauty and a sweet smile, she soon becomes Victor’s dearest friend, and later, something more. But just as she’s close to everything she’s ever wanted: an official position in the Frankenstein family, the endurable love of Victor, a true friend, and the security that she’s been longing for, mysterious murders begin to happen, and Victor has disappeared. Determined not to lose everything that she’s worked for, more often than not by nefarious means, she goes to retrieve Victor and bring him home. But on her journey she discovers that nothing is as it seems, not even her beloved Victor, and monsters may indeed exist, inside of her and otherwise. She must draw on every skill that she has, or she may lose everything, including her life…


This book is easily, so far, my favorite of Kiersten White’s, and I’m so happy that I have And I Darken in my future, because I’m addicted. With The Dark Descent, White spins Frankenstein into a dark, feminist and strangely compassionate retelling that tells the origins of the character most forgotten in the original: Victor Frankenstein’s wife, named Elizabeth Lavenza in this story. Abused, neglected, and cast aside, desperation and need bring her into the path of the wealthy Frankenstein family, whose matriarch hires her to be the best and only friend of her brilliant, cold son, Victor. As the two grow older, they grow close, and begin to fall in love. But when Victor disappears, Elizabeth follows, not realizing that all the while, something dark and terrible is stirring in the shadows of the life she’s worked so hard for. I loved the way that Elizabeth did everything she could to get where she wanted, fierce and bold and utterly unapologetic for being herself. Victor was a terrifying antihero, then villain, and there were times that I reread because I was so enraptured by this romantic, gothic homage to The Modern Prometheus; this book is one of my favorites of the year, and even though I finished it last week, it hadn’t left me; I’ll never forget it. And it had such spooky, creepy vibes that really got me into the Halloween mood. This book was so good; I wish there had been more, because it was spectacular! But at least I can read Frankenstein sometime in the future. I loved this book, I cannot recommend it enough. Gruesome, scary, and positively spine-tingling, it was a creepy thrill ride that I adored! The bottom line: Terrifying, thought-provoking, and fiercely feminist, I loved The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein! Next on deck: The Merciless by Danielle Vega! 

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