The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

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 he...

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Title:The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
Author:Kiersten White
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein Reviews

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    I do not think I expected one of the best books I read this year to be a retelling of Frankenstein where it’s not just about the nature of monstrousness, but about the power of women working together and escaping an abusive relationship, with intoxicating writing and a morally grey lady as the protagonist. And yet… here we are.

    I don’t think you can talk about this book without talking about the characters, be

    I do not think I expected one of the best books I read this year to be a retelling of Frankenstein where it’s not just about the nature of monstrousness, but about the power of women working together and escaping an abusive relationship, with intoxicating writing and a morally grey lady as the protagonist. And yet… here we are.

    I don’t think you can talk about this book without talking about the characters, because they really do star. Their group is so fantastic and I absolutely loved the importance of the various character relationships within the book; rather than being driven by romance, Elizabeth is primarily driven by her relationship with Justine and, to some extent later, Henry and Mary.

    ✔Elizabeth – one of the most interesting and developed narrators I have had the pleasure of reading about this year. she is so deeply morally ambiguous yet so sympathetic to the audience and also, the narrative agency. HER MIND.

    ✔Mary – definitely a lesbian. I have no evidence for this she’s just gay. book nerd badass.

    ✔Justine – the more naive, or stereotypically ladylike, lady character in this novel, and yet is treated just as well by the story as Elizabeth and Mary. deserved better.

    ✔Henry – a good man, a pure man, the only man we’ve ever trusted. I support him.

    ✔Victor – no. a bad man and we hate him

    I absolutely loved the way Kiersten White wrote the abusive relationship at the heart of this - we see the fucked-up nature of that relationship long before Elizabeth does, but it never feels as if Elizabeth “should’ve known better.” In every moment, she has full audience sympathy - in every moment, even if I hated her actions, I understood her. The narrative puts you so far into her mind that it is impossible to look away and it is glorious.

    I think the focus on agency within a narrative should be clear, but I really do want to say -

    . Taking a book that is about the essential nature of humanity from the perspective of a man and flipping its themes solidly is something I will

    be in full support of - the meta-textuality of the narrative is absolutely brilliant. And it’s not just about one woman - it’s about the relationships between women and the strength found in them. Mary, Justine, and Elizabeth form such fantastic relationships, and each feels so fully-formed in a way they may not have in the original narrative.

    I could criticize this - the first half is far too slow, in my opinion, and I still can’t decide whether to love or hate the ending but I’m not sure it’s what I would have wanted - but I can already feel an urge to reread and annotate and write even more about the themes in this book. For me, that is a declaration of love. I think this book [and my new love for Victorian horror] convinced me to read Frankenstein for a project this fall, so maybe I’ll use it as an excuse to reread. Who knows. All I know is that

    TW: abuse, self harm, body horror.

    💜 buddyread with

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  • Victoria Schwab

    Well that was dark and delicious.

  • Emily May

    For the first two thirds, I thought this book was pretty good.

    is one of my favourite books, and I like it when authors give a voice - and different perspective - to a side character. But it is in the final third when this book goes from pretty good to excellent.

    is, essentially, a retelling of

    from the perspective of Elizabeth - an orphan taken in by the Frankenstein family and la

    For the first two thirds, I thought this book was pretty good.

    is one of my favourite books, and I like it when authors give a voice - and different perspective - to a side character. But it is in the final third when this book goes from pretty good to excellent.

    is, essentially, a retelling of

    from the perspective of Elizabeth - an orphan taken in by the Frankenstein family and later the fiancée of Victor. I think this book will work much better for those familiar with the original as it gives a lot of nods to the story. It's hard to appreciate some of the clever twists the author takes without knowing what it's based on.

    In this book, Elizabeth becomes an ever more complex character. She's smart and manipulative. And if she lingers in Victor's shadow, then that's because she knows that's where she needs to be to get what she wants.

    Through her eyes, the tortured genius of Victor becomes a sometimes frightening thing, and yet

    . The stifling constraints placed on women and their ambitions are palpable as the story unfolds. It was so easy for a woman to be dismissed as whiny or silly, or worse-- mad.

    When Victor goes missing in Ingolstadt and writes no letters, Elizabeth begins to track him down. Her investigation leads her down dark paths to charnel houses and secret laboratories. What has Victor been up to? Knowing the truth didn't take anything away from reading. In fact, it made those mysterious dark shadows all the creepier.

    This story largely fills in gaps in the original tale, while shedding a completely new light on it. It's smart how Kiersten White has managed to keep a lot the same, while also creating

    .

    The original

    calls into question what it really means to be a monster and, indeed, who the real monsters are. I think White might have answered that question.

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  • Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies

    This turned out to be a pretty twisted love story.

    I read

    in more details than anyone should ever read a book when I was in 10th grade. I was in Academic Decathlon, and that year, for

    This turned out to be a pretty twisted love story.

    I read

    in more details than anyone should ever read a book when I was in 10th grade. I was in Academic Decathlon, and that year, for the literature portion, we had to read

    . I was determined to master the book, and I wrote a summary for it that was practically as long as the book itself. And therein lies my only complaint about this book.

    Which is not to say it's not good. It is excellent. It is the story of Elizabeth Lavenza, the foster child of the Frankensteins. Far more details are present in this book than in the original, the story is fleshed out so much more. But the fact that it works as a retelling because it is

    Elizabeth was an orphaned child, condemned to a miserable life. The young Victor was an uncontrollable, strange little boy whose parents despaired of him. Elizabeth got a new life when she was sold to the Frankensteins as a playmate for Victor, who became attached to her from the very first meeting.

    Elizabeth is strong, cunning. She might have been young, but from the age of five, she has learned survival. Survival meant Victor, and making herself indispensable to him. She molds herself to fit her new life, and to what Victor needs.

    She never forgets what she doesn't have - which is everything. The only thing that keeps her in the wealthy Frankenstein household and off the streets - or another orphanage - is her ability to control the volatile Victor.

    The situations in the book are beautifully explained - many times I found myself exclaiming "well, this isn't true, because in the book..." only to have everything

    It really is such a good book, but again. It is just too. Damned. Long.

  • Melanie

    Kiersten White wrote this book to honor the fact that 2018 is the 200th anniversary of

    ! It has been ten years since I picked

    Kiersten White wrote this book to honor the fact that 2018 is the 200th anniversary of

    ! It has been ten years since I picked up

    , and even though I didn’t completely love this with my whole heart,

    not only made me want to pick it up again this fall, but it also made me realize that I probably missed a ton of beautiful homages within these pages!

    So, my review is coming to you from someone that’s no longer familiar with the source material. My rating is pretty much strictly based off the story that Kiersten White crafted. And even though I loved how beautifully feminist this was, and I was completely enthralled with the writing, tone, and setting, I just didn’t love the actual story.

    stars young Elizabeth who finally feels safe living in the Frankenstein home. And she will do anything to ensure he place in the family, so she can continue to have that safety. And she does this by getting close to the oldest son of the manor, Victor Frankenstein himself. Victor is prone to outbursts of anger, and Elizabeth is the only one that can keep him calm. But Victor has been away for a while, and Elizabeth is scared to lose her place in the family. Therefore, her and the governess, who is also her good friend, go on a hunt to find Victor and bring him back home!

    And that governess? Justine Moritz is honestly the star of this book. I love her with the sum of my being. Kiersten White did such a wonderful job really fleshing out her character and making me feel even more for her. I truly think Mary Shelley would be so damn proud. My other favorite is the bookseller that is cutely and conveniently named Mary! These two girls were easily my favorite and probably the reason this book is getting three stars instead of two. And if I were Elizabeth I would have been doing everything in my power to date either or both of them.

    But them going to retrieve Victor is truly only the first part of this story. There are two others that hold within them the events that take place when they return back home. Also, this story is told with constant flashbacks to events from the past, so you are kind of able to see why everyone acts the way they do.

    Sadly, I just feel like the biggest problem with this novel was the predictability. Again, it has been a hot second since I’ve read

    , but I don’t even remember everything being as obvious as it was in this. And again, I know this is an homage to the book, but I feel like the book still has to sort of hold up on its own for today’s audience, regardless of their familiarity to the original source material.

    And that truly is the biggest problem with the book, for me. I really enjoyed the rest, and I feel like the setting of this book was completely mastered. And the writing? It’s wonderful. This is a relatively short book, but I was able to pull over twenty quotes that I could have used for that review. That’s seriously impressive. Kiersten White’s beautiful prose really shines through, and I think she really is a master crafter of words.

    And as I touched upon before, the feminism in this book is so very beautiful and so very unapologetic. In general, I think the inclusion of just creating Elizabeth, and making her the star of this tale, was genius. But, I mean, women still aren’t truly considered equal to men in 2018, but in the 1800s? Lord, help me. Elizabeth goes from one abusive home to another, but they are just very different kinds of abuse. This story constantly shows how women are only truly safe with protection from a man. Yet, even then, a woman can be institutionalized and put away in an asylum if they do anything to cross the man that is supposed to protect them.

    I feel like this story really shines a spotlight on toxic love, and how it can be the most destructive thing on Earth.

    that Victor shows, is something that I wish I could highlight for all young kids to see. Sometimes it's very hard for the person being abused to see, acknowledge, and realize that they are being abused. This story really showcases that and

    and how hard it is to break the cycle and those abusive relationships, in the 1800s and in the 2000s.

    for child abuse and abuse in general, medical experimentation, murder, death, heavy dictions of surgical practices especially different cutting and sewing procedures, animal abuse, animal cruelty, animal death, and talk of suicide.

    Overall, I was a little let down by this, because I truly did expect to love this. Yet, I think there is something here for every human to appreciate reading this retelling. Also, I think big fans of

    will probably really appreciate this rendition even more. Lastly, I just want to remind you all how much of a badass

    really was. What a damn blessing to literature, 200 years later, and for all the rest of time.

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    Buddy read with

    (My French Spider Queen)! ❤

  • Kai

    Everything about this book screams READ ME. And yes, it does so in caps lock.

    It is so promisingly creepy and twisted, exactly what a perfect book sounds like to me. I am a big fan of Penny Dreadful (it's on Netflix and you need to watch it right now) and this book had some major PD vibes. It started out strong but the thrill of it all lost itself toward the ending. I immediately fell in love with Elizabeth, the main character. She was

    Everything about this book screams READ ME. And yes, it does so in caps lock.

    It is so promisingly creepy and twisted, exactly what a perfect book sounds like to me. I am a big fan of Penny Dreadful (it's on Netflix and you need to watch it right now) and this book had some major PD vibes. It started out strong but the thrill of it all lost itself toward the ending. I immediately fell in love with Elizabeth, the main character. She was immoral, goal-oriented and did everything in her power to get what she wanted. Characters do not have to be likeable to be interesting. I sometimes think, the less likeable, the more interesting they are. The setup for the plot was perfectly constructed and promised - as the title suggested - to get darker and more desperate the further it went. But what I loved about the beginning - the gothic atmosphere, the mystery, the carefully constructed characters and plot - got lost somewhere along the way. Not only did I find many things to be predictable, I also lost interest in the main character. I think Elizabeth lost some of her fierceness and uniqueness along the way. She turned from a character that I admired to a character that was interchangeable with many other YA main characters out there. It felt like the opposite of character development. The same can be applied to the plot. It felt like chunks of pages had been ripped out to ensure that the book maintained an appropriate length. But I would rather have had 200 pages more, in which the pace of the plot was maintained and the characters had room to grow than a lot of action crammed into a few chapters. This is where the book lost its credibility or the illusion thereof, considering it is a fictional work.

    Overall, I was fascinated by the story and its characters. It was beautifully set up and captivated me at once. Sadly, I got lost around the 2/3 mark.

  • Hamad

    This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found

    🌟 I like the dedication of this book very much as I always think of people as main or secondary characters. I myself am a secondary character!

    🌟 Some of you know that I didn’t finish the And I Darken book. But you also know that I believe in second chances. I wanted to give Kiersten her second chance, and while this was not a favorite book, not even c

    This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found

    🌟 I like the dedication of this book very much as I always think of people as main or secondary characters. I myself am a secondary character!

    🌟 Some of you know that I didn’t finish the And I Darken book. But you also know that I believe in second chances. I wanted to give Kiersten her second chance, and while this was not a favorite book, not even close to that. I like this one more than the first book and I did finish it.

    🌟 My problem is not the writing itself, because the writing is great and there were a few quote that I like. My problem in both this book and the And I Darken book is the Main characters. Sadly, I don’t seem to like the MC of the book because they tend to be boring, predictable and kind of stupid.

    🌟 This is supposed to be a feminist retelling if I am not wrong. Elizabeth should have been more interesting, Victor should have been more interesting but I was more intrigued by Justine and Mary. I even considered DNFing this and that maybe Kiersten’s style is just not for me. But the book got better in the second half. I felt it was predictable and tedious at first but then there is a mini plot twist and things got really interesting after that point which made me continue reading without hesitation.

    🌟 Many of the character’s behaviors made me roll my eyes and say “Really?”. I should disclose that I had never read Frankenstein but I know the story from other media forms. That was part of why I was interested in reading this. Some said that this is a horror book but I wasn’t scared.

    🌟 Summary and Prescription: A feminist Frankenstein retelling with a not so interesting characters. The start was shaky and a bit slow for me but it definitely gets better. It has a very good writing but I could not relate to the main characters. Still a decent read for fans of feminist retellings and Frankenstein.

  • Kayla Dawn

    I'm so goddamn disappointed.

    I really enjoyed the first 150 pages or so (even though most people who disliked this seem to think it was the boring part of the book lol) but it just went downhill after this.

    Everything happened so fast and was unnecessarily rushed. Why not write a longer book? It only had around 280 pages anyway.

    It read as if White just wanted to finish as quickly as possible.

    Because of that the story got more and more unbelievable and felt artificially constructed, forced even.

    I'm so goddamn disappointed.

    I really enjoyed the first 150 pages or so (even though most people who disliked this seem to think it was the boring part of the book lol) but it just went downhill after this.

    Everything happened so fast and was unnecessarily rushed. Why not write a longer book? It only had around 280 pages anyway.

    It read as if White just wanted to finish as quickly as possible.

    Because of that the story got more and more unbelievable and felt artificially constructed, forced even.

    I kind of liked the direction White went with Elizabeth in the beginning of the book. She was selfish and absolutely unlikeable but in a well written way!

    But that was also ruined after the sudden change in the story. I get that her character was supposed to grow but again it felt forced and unnatural. It happened too fast for it be believable.

    Victor also was interesting at the start. And again he was ruined by another try of forcing some kind of "growth" on him (not really a positive one, but I can't think of another word lol). I mean, it was obvious in what direction his character would go but it just wasn't done in a good and realistic way.

    I don't want to sound repetitive but again it was too sudden and not portrayed realistically.

    Oh, and in regards of any "plot twists".... none of them were unpredictable at all. And I'm seriously not good at guessing them. So that was underwhelming lol.

    Overall I liked the idea and I really enjoyed about half of the book but everything after that completely ruined it for me 🤷🏻‍♀️

    *spoiler ahead*

    I would have liked this more if the epilogue didn't happen though. It actually would've been a satisfying ending if they both died that way. But oh well, here we have another author that is to scared to kill of their characters.

    And what the fuck was the deal with "Adam"? Are you actually trying to convince me that they can live "happily ever after" with him?? Sorry but no lmao

  • Em (RunawayWithDreamthieves)

    you know what’s really fun and in style right now?

    I’m so excited to read this book!!

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