The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
Published by Delacorte Press on September 25th, 2018
Genres: Young Adult
“I sought to puncture Heaven and instead discovered Hell.”
I finally read Frankenstein last year and realized that I had been missing out on a masterpiece.
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a retelling of the seminal sci-fi tale, but this time featuring Elizabeth as the main character. I thought it was a smart idea considering Elizabeth in the original was in the background and subsequent adaptations have made her into a damsel in distress.
White’s writing shines as she moulds Elizabeth into a new character in a familiar setting. She isn’t your typical female YA character. She’s not a brave girl who loves everyone and wants peace in the world. She might have a sweet smile and dimples to distract people, but she has a manipulative mind and can easily control everyone around her.
She is fueled by security and her need to be with the one person who makes her feel safe — Victor. Now, don’t get me wrong. This relationship is problematic. It’s terrible to read about this codependent relationship.
She’s his angel and he is her salvation. Elizabeth is made to feel (on her own part as well as Victor’s) that she’s nothing without him. And it’s interesting to see how the relationship grows through them doing everything for each other until the reveal.
Victor in this book isn’t crazy. He’s just a genius without a drop of morality who clings to his beliefs and a false portrayal of Elizabeth. It’s sad, but it’s fun to read about.
I thought I’d get annoyed by the flashbacks embedded into the story between the present hunt and discovery in each chapter. But I came to understand it as the heart of the story.
What surprised me most was that the Monster didn’t play a huge part in the book. Yes, the Monster still makes frequent appearances in the book, but the core of the story was very much Elizabeth and Victor. But the way the Monster comes up was so masterfully crafted. White did a magnificent job introducing him and revealing the horror near the end.
This was a spooky read that’s perfect for October. And you don’t need to have read the original to enjoy this. I will say that it might bring an added layer of appreciation and fun to it if you have though. You’ll spot all of White’s homages to the original. And you might not be able to appreciate the clever twists White takes without knowing what it’s based on.