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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    Sometimes we were strangers even to ourselves. For the first two thirds, I thought this book was pretty good. Frankenstein 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. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is, essentially, a retelling of Frankenstein from the perspective of Elizabeth - an orphan taken in by the Frankenstein family and la Sometimes we were strangers even to ourselves. For the first two thirds, I thought this book was pretty good. Frankenstein 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. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is, essentially, a retelling of Frankenstein 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 nothing is as terrifying as being a woman in 18th Century Europe. 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 a bigger and very different-looking picture. The original Frankenstein 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. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Schwab

    Well that was dark and delicious.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Em (RunawayWithDreamthieves)

    you know what’s really fun and in style right now? retellings of old famous tales but focusing the spotlight on the lives of the women in them and carving more spaces for their stories. I’m so excited to read this book!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    You are mine, Elizabeth Lavenza, and nothing will take you from me. Not even death. 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 You are mine, Elizabeth Lavenza, and nothing will take you from me. Not even death. 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 - this is why retellings are my favorite . 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 always 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 I loved this and I hope you all love it too. TW: abuse, self harm, body horror. 💜 buddyread with my literal favorite person, Melanie Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  5. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    ARC provided by Random House in exchange for an honest review. “Some nights, when even my child’s heart knew that what I had been asked to endure was too much, I would stand on the edge of the lake, lift my face to the stars, and scream. Nothing ever called back. Even among the creeping things of the lake’s night, I was alone. Until Victor.” Kiersten White wrote this book to honor the fact that 2018 is the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley! It has been ten years since I picked ARC provided by Random House in exchange for an honest review. “Some nights, when even my child’s heart knew that what I had been asked to endure was too much, I would stand on the edge of the lake, lift my face to the stars, and scream. Nothing ever called back. Even among the creeping things of the lake’s night, I was alone. Until Victor.” Kiersten White wrote this book to honor the fact that 2018 is the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley! It has been ten years since I picked up Frankenstein, and even though I didn’t completely love this with my whole heart, Emily May’s review 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. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein 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! “I have waded through hell to deliver you heaven.” 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. “I do not fear to die. I do not want to live in a world where devils can take such perfect, beautiful innocence without punishment.” 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 Frankenstein, 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. “I dreaded another flash of lightning for what it might reveal of the person in the trees watching me. He stood at least seven feet tall, a hulking and unnatural creature. Fear drained my fury…” 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. The cycles of abuse 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 gaslighting and how hard it is to break the cycle and those abusive relationships, in the 1800s and in the 2000s. “You are mine, Elizabeth Lavenza, and nothing will take you from me. Not even death.” Trigger and content warnings 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 Frankenstein will probably really appreciate this rendition even more. Lastly, I just want to remind you all how much of a badass Mary Shelley, the queen of horror and science fiction, really was. What a damn blessing to literature, 200 years later, and for all the rest of time. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. Buddy read with Elise (My French Spider Queen)! ❤

  6. 5 out of 5

    Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies

    “Elizabeth,” he said, his tone firm and chiding. He lifted my chin and fixed my eyes with his. “You are mine. You have been since the first day we met. You will be mine forever. My absence should not have caused you to doubt the firmness and steadfastness of my attachment to you. It will never fade.” This turned out to be a pretty twisted love story. I read Frankenstein 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 “Elizabeth,” he said, his tone firm and chiding. He lifted my chin and fixed my eyes with his. “You are mine. You have been since the first day we met. You will be mine forever. My absence should not have caused you to doubt the firmness and steadfastness of my attachment to you. It will never fade.” This turned out to be a pretty twisted love story. I read Frankenstein 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 Frankenstein. 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. It's just too damned long. 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 believable. 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. I had become this girl in order to survive, but the longer I lived in her body, the easier it was to simply be her. 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. I used smiles like currency. They were the only currency I ever had. My dresses, my shoes, my ribbons—they all belonged to the Frankensteins. 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 seamlessly explained and incorporated chapters later. It really is such a good book, but again. It is just too. Damned. Long.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Dawn

    I'm so goddamn disappointed. I really thought I would love this. 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 ar I'm so goddamn disappointed. I really thought I would love this. 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 it 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

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kai

    "I thought to puncture heaven and instead I discovered hell." 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 "I thought to puncture heaven and instead I discovered hell." 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. Thank you to PRH International and to NetGalley for providing me with a review copy! Find more of my books on Instagram

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hamad

    This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription “For everyone made to feel like a side character in their own story” 🌟 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 @The Book Prescription “For everyone made to feel like a side character in their own story” 🌟 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    may ❀

    this book was a Ride so creepy, so entertaining, so messed up. the characters are really deep and flawed and terrifying. and those plot twists, hashtag 👌 RTC ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ my brain: you're already reading a kiersten white book and it's not going so hot so why not pick up ANOTHER ONE OF HER BOOKS 🤪🤪 bc...logic buddy read with claraaa 💖

  11. 4 out of 5

    Korrina (OwlCrate)

    I finished it! But I can’t really decide how I want to rate it yet. I liked it, but I don’t think I was in the right mood to read it. But the writing was quite good, it was definitely creepy and interesting. And if you like the source material, you’ll probably find a lot to enjoy in this retelling.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    This is intriguing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    I'm super conflicted on this. I loved the characters so much. Elizabeth is one of the best protagonists I have read from. She's my slytherin queen. But this was so boring. The pacing was all over the place. There were really long stretches where nothing happened and then the action scenes went by so fast. I also fell asleep while reading it at one point which never happens so........

  14. 5 out of 5

    clara

    i would die for elizabeth and mary (view spoiler)[and adam (hide spoiler)] . RTC. __________________ i... have never read frankenstein, but i will read anything kiersten white writes. // buddy read with a babe ✨

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nadhira Satria

    *SCREAMS IN 80 LANGUAGES* I'd read anything historical by Kiersten white

  16. 5 out of 5

    Merphy Napier

    Some things I loved: -These characters were REALLY twisted. I loved how obsessive, and calculating these characters were throughout the novel. Very intriguing and so interesting to see how their minds worked (especially victor) - The many nods to the original. I loved how much this book looked like the original classic without following it exactly. It was so much fun to make the connections and guess where the story would go based off the original book. There were so many beautiful nods to the or Some things I loved: -These characters were REALLY twisted. I loved how obsessive, and calculating these characters were throughout the novel. Very intriguing and so interesting to see how their minds worked (especially victor) - The many nods to the original. I loved how much this book looked like the original classic without following it exactly. It was so much fun to make the connections and guess where the story would go based off the original book. There were so many beautiful nods to the original story that made the reading experience so much more fun! - That ending!! (view spoiler)[ at first, I thought the way the book was ending felt weird, why the focus on Mary being so interested in Victor's journals?? But then when Elizabeth died and Mary brought her back to life... oh man! That was such a GOOD twist to the original tale! (hide spoiler)] What I didn't like: - Because I loved the original book, I found a few big twists easy to predict. (view spoiler)[ I knew Henry was the monster from the start. That's not at all how the original did it, but when Henry's visit to Victor got moved up in the timeline, I felt it was clear. Also, Justine. I was waiting for the purpose of her character from the start, she just felt like a pointless add in. I liked her, but she didn't seem to serve a purpose. Until she died. Then I was like, DUH! Victor is gunna make her into a monster just like the monster asked for in the original! (hide spoiler)] some things I DIDN't predict: (view spoiler)[ that Victor would be THIS twisted in this version, that Victor would be the one to strangle his brother, and THAT ENDING! (hide spoiler)] - Elizabeth's arc (view spoiler)[ she went from this unapologetically twisted character to a sweet (and bland) good guy. Some would call that character growth - I call it disappointing. (hide spoiler)] I think a lot of people are going to have a problem with the pacing of this book, it's VERY character driven in the first half with not a very interesting plot to support it. It picks up a lot in the second half, but still has slow sections throughout. Personally, I thought this book was a blast and I had so much fun reading a retelling of a story I've loved so much. I think Kiersten White did a great job at keeping the masterpiece of the original story in tact, while still making it her own.

  17. 5 out of 5

    ꧁ ℨαrα ꧂

    Plot ~ Concept: ★★★★★ ~ Execution: ★★★★☆ Pacing: ★★★★☆ Writing style: ★★★★☆ Characters: ★★★★☆ World: ★★★★★ Enjoyment: ★★★★☆ Cover: ★★★★☆ Pros: ○ This book is dark, twisted and eerie, and the setting is perfect — exactly what you want from a Frankenstein retelling. ○ It also has characters who are royally messed up — also what you want from a Frankenstein retelling. ○ The author successfully made me actually sympathise with Judge Frankenstein at a certain point. ○ There were little plot twists throughou Plot ~ Concept: ★★★★★ ~ Execution: ★★★★☆ Pacing: ★★★★☆ Writing style: ★★★★☆½ Characters: ★★★★☆½ World: ★★★★★ Enjoyment: ★★★★☆½ Cover: ★★★★☆ Pros: ○ This book is dark, twisted and eerie, and the setting is perfect — exactly what you want from a Frankenstein retelling. ○ It also has characters who are royally messed up — also what you want from a Frankenstein retelling. ○ The author successfully made me actually sympathise with Judge Frankenstein at a certain point. ○ There were little plot twists throughout the book that took me by surprise. ○ Elizabeth was a complex character who was dealt really awful cards by life. Her narrative was very distinct. ○ Mary was an actual queen. ○ Ernest and William were too pure for that world, honestly. “...then proceeded to ask me if he could have every shiny thing he saw. He was a magpie, this child.” ajsfrkjasmjsn HOW CUTE. ○ I quite liked the somewhat open-ended epilogue. Cons: ○ There were certain points where the characters —Elizabeth in particular— were being just a little bit dim. ○ There’s no doubt that Victor was mad, but I wish that his motives or psychological reasoning behind doing what he did were explored in greater detail. ○ I could’ve personally done with a little less detail in just some of the flashbacks. Overall rating: ★★★★☆½ ———————————— This COVER... well, it suits the story of Frankenstein, that’s for sure. I hope the story weirds me out :”)

  18. 5 out of 5

    lucie

    "What perfection can you hope to find in death?" I've read only one book by Kiersten White and since it turned out to be the worst book I've read in my life, I was determined not to read anything else by her ever again. I'm glad I am such a nice person and gave her second chance, to redeem herself because it payed off. The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein was delightfully chilling, creepily good. The first half was slow, it took me few chapters to get into the story but then it took off "What perfection can you hope to find in death?" I've read only one book by Kiersten White and since it turned out to be the worst book I've read in my life, I was determined not to read anything else by her ever again. I'm glad I am such a nice person and gave her second chance, to redeem herself because it payed off. The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein was delightfully chilling, creepily good. The first half was slow, it took me few chapters to get into the story but then it took off and the twisted ride began. Almost every scene with Victor gave me chills. His possesive and morbid thinking, brr. Elizabeth was a likeable character, I just didn't like how much she was devoted to Victor. The twist at the end was good but I wouldn't mind if the story ended few chapters before.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nastassja

    Actual rating: 3.5 stars The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is quite an unusual book that will haunt your dreams long after you finished it. I am a goner for dark morally ambiguous stories that make you reconsider things you never questioned before, or in the case of this story - things you thought were quite solid and unchanging. But of course, Kiersten White is a goddess sent on earth to torture us with her talent and she is beyond successful in that department *points at Now I Darken*. Actual rating: 3.5 stars The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is quite an unusual book that will haunt your dreams long after you finished it. I am a goner for dark morally ambiguous stories that make you reconsider things you never questioned before, or in the case of this story - things you thought were quite solid and unchanging. But of course, Kiersten White is a goddess sent on earth to torture us with her talent and she is beyond successful in that department *points at Now I Darken*. I haven't read the original Frankenstein yet, but I am quite familiar with the story through numerous adaptation I've encountered throughout the years. Plus, I've watched a movie recently that showed how the masterpiece was created by Mary Shelly, and I must confess, it was quite a disturbing experience. After that picture, I pity women of that period even more; they didn't even have basic rights to be their own person. It's a sad story, and from the darkest corners of reality, Frankenstein had risen to haunt and torment generation after generation with one question: Who is the true monster of the story? But what Kiersten White did in her re-imagining is bold and daring in many ways: she turned all men from the original who were on the front to secondary characters and made a move with her white queen hiding is shadows. It is deservedly so that Elizabeth got her own story and her own justice. Moreover, all female characters are on the front and shining like diamonds. My concern, however, is not in the way the author handled her female characters but in the way the story changed its spots turning into an entirely different beast altogether. **Spoilers from the original Frankenstein and The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein!** In the original story, Victor Frankenstein was the one who created his monster and consequently was the reason the said creature turned into a monster. But from Victor's perspective, he was driven by the greater good that, unfortunately, had led him to hell, literal and figurative. In a way, Victor was the real monster and the reason all he loved were killed by his own creation. The sad part is he never really realized his dire mistake in his blind hunt for immortality that was bordering on madness. What Kiersten White did in her story is different. In a way, her Elizabeth was the monster who created her own monster - Victor; she was driven by the feeling of self-preservation, which is understandable considering women's right or the lack of them at the time, but Elizabeth delusions herself into believing she loved her monster and he loved her back. Of course, Victor loved her, but in a twisted way that he thought was the only way: he wanted to protect Elizabeth from death. At that point, I don't see Victor as a lost cause, but lately, when revelations start to fall on us we see that Victor is completely mad, a sociopath with no sense of reality. But to my senses, the turn over was done abruptly. You will argue that it is an illusion of 1st person narration, after all, we only know Elizabeth's voice in the story, but even as unreliable as 1st POV might be, it is too much of a self-deceit. The Victor we see until 50% of the book is dangerous and unstable but he is not cold-blooded mad, and to turn into a full mode crazed person who can hide his madness so well... Victor we saw after all masks were unveiled was not capable of playing such complex game. He was simply mad. What I am trying to say - I really liked the reimagining of the original but maybe I would've liked more complexity from Victor's character, not to feel as everything was rushed to the conclusion to match the original Frankenstein's ending. But despite my peculiar complaints regarding the ending and characters' development, I am fully dedicated to the idea that Kiersten White's Frankenstein is no less - if not more - chilling and fascinating than the original. Goosebumps and the feeling of doom will not leave your skin long after you finished the book. **You can also find this review on my blog**

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stacee

    I struggled with this book and it legitimately breaks my heart. I liked Elizabeth. I like how devoted and well meaning she is. Victor was intriguing and somehow I was rooting for both of them. There are a few other characters, but I don’t want to say anything else here. Plot wise it was slow, but expected. My main complaint is the pages and pages and paaaaaages of description and passive action. There is very little dialogue. The story did pick up towards the end and within the last 70 or so pag I struggled with this book and it legitimately breaks my heart. I liked Elizabeth. I like how devoted and well meaning she is. Victor was intriguing and somehow I was rooting for both of them. There are a few other characters, but I don’t want to say anything else here. Plot wise it was slow, but expected. My main complaint is the pages and pages and paaaaaages of description and passive action. There is very little dialogue. The story did pick up towards the end and within the last 70 or so pages, I was captivated. Overall, I did like it, but from the friends I know who have read this {and given it glowing reviews}, I was expecting a lot more. For me, this didn’t have the excitement or suspense or even the gothic atmosphere I was was hoping for. **Huge thanks to Delacorte Press for giving me an arc at YallWest**

  21. 5 out of 5

    destiny ♎ [howling libraries]

    Oh god whyyyy is this not in my hands yet?! I need ALL of the Kiersten White hist-fic

  22. 5 out of 5

    Beatrice ~ Confessions of a Pinay Bookaholic

    Thank you Penguin Random House International for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Trigger warning: This book contains graphic scenes such as abuse, violence and gore. Timely it's Halloween season, it's the perfect time I step away from contemporary romance and pick spooky novels. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a YA Gothic Horror novel and retelling of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I haven't read its original tale but when I finished this book, it enco Thank you Penguin Random House International for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Trigger warning: This book contains graphic scenes such as abuse, violence and gore. Timely it's Halloween season, it's the perfect time I step away from contemporary romance and pick spooky novels. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a YA Gothic Horror novel and retelling of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I haven't read its original tale but when I finished this book, it encourages me to read it someday. Elizabeth Lavenza is an orphaned girl adopted by the Frankenstein family. She meets their eldest son, Victor Frankenstein whose personality is peculiar. He's got bad temper and has violent tendencies but only Elizabeth can pacify him. The strong and unbreakable friendship secures Elizabeth a permanent home with luxuries from their family. She feels at ease and vows to never return in the awful orphanage. Victor went away for school but gone missing later on as he stopped sending letters. It worried Elizabeth so she travels to Ingolstadt with Justine, the Frankenstein family's governess, to search for him.  She never thought his fascination on dark stuff will drive him to madness and create something that's beyond her control. This is officially my first Kiersten White novel. Her books were on my radar way back my teenage years but I never had a chance to read them.I'm familiar with her writing style because I've read her short story (which is one of my top favorites!) in My True Love Gave to Me. In this book, she wrote a quality retelling as she captured every moment vividly. I love it's character driven, mysteriously dark and eerie. The plot twists and the gore are remarkable. I'm captivated with Elizabeth's character. She's devious, intelligent, loyal and unpredictable. She'll do everything for Victor even if it's the most ridiculous thing and whatever she wants, she gets. She's an impressive heroine and thru her perspective, it gives the story more depth. Victor is an insane and twisted hero. Quite sinister and his experiments are creepy as hell. How did Elizabeth tolerated this man was beyond words. They're one crazy couple. The flaw of this book was its gradual pacing but it's still worth reading. Overall, if you love YA Gothic Horror novels and whether you've read or haven't read Frankenstein, I recommend it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fables&Wren

    I will read anything by this author. A. NY. TH. IN. G.

  24. 4 out of 5

    The Reading's Love Blog

    RECENSIONE QUI: https://thereadingslove.blogspot.com/... Siamo nel periodo giusto per dedicarci alla lettura di uno Young Adult gotico che è la rivisitazione del famoso romanzo intitolato Frankenstein dell’autrice Mary Shelley. Elizabeth Lavenza è una ragazza orfana che ha subìto sulla propria pelle la crudeltà e i maltrattamenti dell’orfanotrofio in cui è vissuta. La speranza arriva quando viene adottata dalla cupa famiglia Frankenstein. Nella loro casa incontra il figlio maggiore, Victor Franke RECENSIONE QUI: https://thereadingslove.blogspot.com/... Siamo nel periodo giusto per dedicarci alla lettura di uno Young Adult gotico che è la rivisitazione del famoso romanzo intitolato Frankenstein dell’autrice Mary Shelley. Elizabeth Lavenza è una ragazza orfana che ha subìto sulla propria pelle la crudeltà e i maltrattamenti dell’orfanotrofio in cui è vissuta. La speranza arriva quando viene adottata dalla cupa famiglia Frankenstein. Nella loro casa incontra il figlio maggiore, Victor Frankenstein, la cui personalità è peculiare: ha un carattere irrequieto e tendenze violente, ma solo Elizabeth può tranquillizzarlo. L’amicizia forte e indistruttibile assicura ad Elizabeth una dimora permanente e il lusso della loro famiglia. Si sente a suo agio in quella casa e giura che mai più farà ritorno in quell’orribile orfanotrofio. I due crescono e Victor si trasferisce in Germania per frequentare l’università, ma in seguito Elizabeth non riceve più notizie del suo amico e così preoccupata, decide di mettersi in viaggio per Ingolstadt per cercarlo. Le sue indagini la conducono su oscuri sentieri che portano a case e laboratori segreti. Cosa ha fatto Victor? Le ombre misteriose e oscure rendono la storia molto inquietante ed è proprio questo il bello di un romanzo gotico. Sono affascinata dal personaggio di Elizabeth. È un’eroina subdola, intelligente, manipolatrice, leale e imprevedibile. Elizabeth non ha mai pensato che il fascino per le cose oscure potrebbe portarla verso la pazzia e potrebbe creare qualcosa che va al di fuori del suo controllo. Dall’inizio della storia fino alla fine diventa un personaggio via via sempre più complesso. Attraverso i suoi occhi, il genio torturato di Victor diventa meno spaventoso in confronto all’essere una donna nell’Europa del XVIII secolo. I soffocanti vincoli posti alle donne e alle loro ambizioni sono palpabili nell’intera storia. In quei tempi era più facile che una donna venisse liquidata come piagnucolona o sciocca, o peggio… pazza. Non avevano diritti, ma solo doveri nei confronti degli uomini. La storia getta una luce completamente nuova sul racconto originale. È grandioso come Kiersten White sia riuscita a mantenere suspense e a creare allo stesso tempo un’immagine più grande e molto diversa. L’originale Frankenstein mette in discussione ciò che significa veramente essere un mostro e, in effetti, chi sono i veri mostri. Prendere un libro che riguarda la natura dell’umanità dalla prospettiva di un uomo e ribaltare i suoi temi è qualcosa di unico in cui solo i grandi autori riescono. I colpi di scena, il sangue, personaggi misteriosamente oscuri e inquietanti. La protagonista Elizabeth farà qualsiasi cosa per Victor e tutto ciò che è in suo potere per ottenere ciò che vuole. È un’eroina che dà profondità alla storia. Victor è un eroe contorto e folle e abbastanza sinistro. Insieme, Victor e Elizabeth sono una coppia fuori dal comune come Joker e Harley Quinn, il loro amore è tossico e può diventare distruttivo. Elizabeth è colei che ha creato il suo mostro Victor e si illude di amare il mostro. Naturalmente Victor la ama ma in un modo contorto che pensa sia l’unico modo: vuole proteggere Elizabeth dalla morte. Le protagoniste secondarie Justine e Mary sono ben delineate e insieme a Elizabeth esaltano la figura della donna e la forza dell’amicizia tra donne. La storia è raccontata con frequenti flashback che fanno capire le azioni del presente e come i personaggi si sono evoluti dal passato al presente… CONTINUA SUL NOSTRO BLOG. VENITE A TROVARCI https://thereadingslove.blogspot.com/

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amira

    That was creepy and enjoyable. I really didn't connect with Elizabeth but that didn't bother me, most of the characters were very interesting. I really loved how feminism was effortlessly disscussed, it wasn't forced at all. It just showcased the reality of women being dependent on others to take care of them, as their voice is unheard and efforts unvalued, and how due to the fear for her life, she would do anything to please her caregivers, including losing who she truly is.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rissa

    Dark descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein “Elizabeth was presented to Victor as his special friend.” I think its cute. This was how Elizabeth came to be and how she in a sense helped Victor become The Victor Frankenstein. That ending though!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nitzan Schwarz

    Got an arc in SDCC!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bitchin' Reads

    I am happy to announce that I, Bitchin' Reads, ended up liking this book much more than my one update would lead you to believe. :) The update I mention ranted about believability of Elizabeth piecing together previous moments to realize (view spoiler)[that Victor had stolen away Justine's body to create a mate for the monster. (We end up finding out that wasn't what was happening, Victor was just practicing for when he would remake Elizabeth into a creature much like the monster, reborn and able I am happy to announce that I, Bitchin' Reads, ended up liking this book much more than my one update would lead you to believe. :) The update I mention ranted about believability of Elizabeth piecing together previous moments to realize (view spoiler)[that Victor had stolen away Justine's body to create a mate for the monster. (We end up finding out that wasn't what was happening, Victor was just practicing for when he would remake Elizabeth into a creature much like the monster, reborn and able to survive death, defy God and nature. But that is a digression.) However, the way Justine rationalized what little she knew to come to the conclusion that Justine's body was intended to be a mate to the monster--there were some glaring holes. With what she knew--which is also what we knew, mind you--that leap in logic doesn't make sense. All she knew was: 1) Victor and the monster had a brief conversation among the glaciers by their home in Geneva, none of which Elizabeth heard from how far away she was and how loud the howling wind was. She only saw how calm the monster was, how agitated Victor was, and that no move was made between the two for attack. 2) Someone had killed Victor's younger brother, William, and the blame was laid at Justine's feet; Elizabeth believed it to be the monster and knew, just knew, of Justine's innocence in the matter, since Justine loved those boys as her own. 3) Victor had told her that Justine's body was refused burial on sacred ground, she would be cremated, and they could not have her ashes to bury her. [end of prior knowledge] So with all that, Elizabeth is tracking Victor after he disappears from the home in Geneva, and she follows him to Scotland and then the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland. It is there that she finally finds where he has hidden himself and discovers another lab, and inside that lab she finds Justine's mutilated body. Her mind is working in overdrive trying to piece together everything she knows has happened up until this point, which really isn't everything, and as her mind is whizzing away she gets the thought that Victor is being manipulated to create a mate for the monster. Now I'm about to get super nit-picky, and full disclosure I know--I *KNOW*--this is nitpicking, but this logical jump irritated me. (Hence the update rant, haha.) At the time I read that moment, the sudden jump to "the monster clearly wants a mate and is forcing Victor to make one" just didn't work. Even now, having finished reading and knowing everything that took place, I can kind of see that logical jump but struggle to come to terms with it--it is a precarious jump, one that almost doesn't make it. In retrospect, I can see it a little bit. In the moment, I was a pissed off reader raging that there is NO WAY Elizabeth came to that conclusion with her limited information. (I'm actually laughing about it now, because I was off the hinge fuming.) Actually, true life, I think I'm just going to buy a copy of the book and reread it, because I'm beginning to wonder if *I* just missed something and became irrationally angry. (hide spoiler)] I ended up loving this book. There were a few minor stylistic choices that I wasn't a fan of (i.e. using the "Well. [something said/written here"), but they didn't happen often. Otherwise, I loved the homage to Mary Shelley and Frankenstein, the recreation of a literary period that compliments the period in life young adults are experiencing, and I think that this was a fantastic retelling of a tale I love so much. (If you can't tell how much I love it by how nit-picky I was with that one moment, I'm concerned for you... :) ) Kiersten White does a fantastic job with the surprise factor, with the twists, and with the building of suspense in this somewhat mystery of a story. Oh how very dark it gets, the lunacy you see, how far a man's brilliance can take him into madness... Creep-tacular, I say. I also want to take a moment to appreciate the bits of truth Kiersten includes. A woman's life in the Victorian age was very limited by the men around her. She was a non-possession treated like a possession, which we see plenty of with Victor's claiming of Elizabeth again and again and again, and even so far back with the Frankenstein's taking her in to handle Victor for them. Women were at the mercy of first their fathers or guardians, then their husbands, and their needs and wants were often disregarded--(view spoiler)[this was touched upon first with Judge Frankenstein staking claim to part of Elizabeth's inheritance for all the "kindness" the Frankenstein's had bestowed with their taking her in, and again when Victor fabricated Elizabeth's madness to land in the asylum where, we learn, women seeking safety, independence, and happiness were a threat often met with imprisonment and committance to said institutions. (hide spoiler)] The entire book is about a very strong and capable woman pretending to be the complete opposite, but she had to continue pretending despite her intelligence and self-efficient capabilities to protect herself against destitution. This sentiment still rings true today, because women are still not afforded the same expectations, honors, and opportunities as men. So take heed strong women! We may not be committed to asylums for seeking safety from abuse, or reading (har har on those damn Victorians!), but we still have society telling us to fulfill these unspoken antiquated roles. Let's not give in, shall we? We must fight our own monster! I'm really not sure how this turned into a feminist rant, but I find it a fitting way to end this review. I hope you gentle ladies (and men) feel empowered. And don't forget to check out this book. Happy reading!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔

    A marvelous retelling and homage to a timeless classic. *Review to come*

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katie (Lost in Pages)

    I personally haven’t read Frankenstein but I’m somewhat familiar with the storyline. I really enjoyed all the background stories of Elizabeth’s journey that were scattered throughout the book, and I really loved the complexity of Victor. I wish it was a bit longer though, a lot of the last 60-70 pages felt slightly rushed.

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