Primary Genre(s): Young Adult, Horror, Retelling
Published: 25 Sep 2018 by Delacorte Press
Page count: 304
My Format: ebook (personal copy)
Would I recommend it: Absolutely
Commission Link: Buy The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
My rating: ★★★★★
Synopsis from Goodreads
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 herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.
But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.
I would imagine most everyone knows the story Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I’ve read it in the past and I’ve seen the movies, so I was definitely intrigued to find out how someone would tell the story from a different perspective. I found this “retelling” to be amazing! Here are my pros and cons for The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein:
- The writing was so descriptive! If you have followed any of my previous reviews you will remember that I am not a big fan of descriptions that go over the top. I like to have a scene set, but I don’t like it to be verbose. This book hit the nail on the head with regard to describing the people, the laboratory, the experiments, the monster and everything else. When we finally get to Victor Frankenstein’s first laboratory, I honestly felt like I was walking through that room and not just reading about it. When descriptive writing is done well it is incredibly immersive… and it is done absolutely perfectly in this book.
- Along with the wonderfully descriptive prose, the writing in general was perfect. The style was formal but readable and 100% appropriate for the time period of the story. It was a pleasure to read.
The Monster, terrible in aspect from far away, was even more horrible to behold up close. His hair, long and black, hung lank from his misshapen head. The lines of Victor’s patchwork sewing made his skin ridged and puckered, portions of it different tones and a few sections withered like a mummy’s.
His lips were black like tar over teeth as straight and white as any I had ever seen. The contrast, rather than being pleasing, made both seem more alien and repulsive.
- I liked the past/present narrative. As we follow Elizabeth through the beginning of the story, events occur that trigger memories from the past. The story then switches to describe this past memory. These memories were incorporated organically into the story and they were amazingly effective in revealing the characters’ backstories as well as developing their motivations. These memories particularly delved into the psychology of Victor and Elizabeth, and they provided much more depth and complexity than I was expecting.
- The pacing of the story is excellent. I raced through this book and there was never a moment where I wasn’t captivated.
- Victor Frankenstein was so completely developed in this story that he started to frighten and disturb me. Elizabeth, having her own issues and fears, was equally captivating. Even Justine and the Monster were compelling characters.
- The ending was perfect!
This story had every opportunity to be corny and it absolutely wasn’t. I have not been a huge fan of retellings in the past, but this one is simply phenomenal. The author told the story with finesse, care, and much more depth than I anticipated. It was a pleasant surprise.
I definitely recommend this book. I do think a reader familiar with the original Frankenstein story will find this book much more compelling, but it isn’t a prerequisite.
If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
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(image from Goodreads)