Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Review: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Title: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
Written by: Kiersten White
Published: September 25, 2018 by Delacorte (Random House)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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 was really looking forward to reading this book. Not only did I love Kiersten’s series about a genderbent Vlad the Impaler, but I usually love Frankenstein retellings. And while I liked this book, I wasn’t completely blown away by it.

One thing I will say is that I thought it was a really good retelling. It’s sometimes hard to do retellings that are close to the original and still different enough to feel new and creative but this book managed to do that. It’s been awhile since I read Frankenstein but after a quick refresher I really like the way Kiersten spun the book. I liked being able to see the book from Elizabeth’s perspective because we get to see a perspective that we don’t get in the original novel. But I also really liked the spin on the themes of the original. It also addressed the idea of science playing god and who really is a monster. I love those themes in my books and enjoyed it here.

The other thing that I really think this book did well is the characters. If you are going to take a book about monsters and what makes a monster obviously you are going to have some odious and complex characters. So many of the characters were vicious and terrible people win self-centered motives. If you like unlikable characters then Kiersten White is the author for you. The thing is however she makes them sympathetic. I really loved what she did with Elizabeth. She makes some pretty awful decisions throughout the book and it leads some pretty serious consequences but you still root for her. That to me is the mark of a good character.

As far as the setting, it had a good historical fiction feel to it but it was subtle. It is one of those books that shows you the inequality that women were faced with at the time but it didn’t don’t with beating its message over your head. You can tell that Kiersten did her research on some of the ways women were treated and oppressed in and out of marriage but that wasn’t really what the book was about. It was just one thing that added to the setting and tone of the book.

The only thing I didn’t totally love was the plot development and pacing. Now I’m not saying that it was uninteresting, it was just kind of slow for me. This is not a very long book but it still took me about five days to read it. It stuck pretty closely to the original novel and then towards the end it veered off on it’s own direction which is totally fine. It was just a much more character-driven read than I usually prefer. It’s not a fault of the book, just not something that I typically enjoy.

All in all this was a really good read. It was a creative retelling, complex and sympathetic unlikable character, and an interesting historical setting. In enjoyed it but it wasn't exactly what I was hoping for.

I give The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. I think fans of retellings would probably like this one especially if you like Frankenstein or are looking a character-driven retelling check this out.

Have you read The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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