Cover Image: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

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An interesting look at Elizabeth Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein's childhood companion and how she "managed" his emotions and behaviors as they grew up together and then discovered that he had created a monster.
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I received this free eARC novel from NetGalley.  This is my honest review. 

This has been on my TBR pile for so long, and I'm glad I finally got around to it.  I really enjoyed the storyline and seeing the characters change throughout the story was a great character development.  The plot was great and kept my attention.  I'm glad I got the chance to read this and will be on the lookout for more in the future!
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This book was an ARC provided by netgalley (thank you!). I've read Frankenstein several times in various college courses, so it is a classic novel that has stuck with me fairly well. I think Ms. White did a great job at sharing the story from Elizabeth's point of view. Because of my familiarity of the story, it was easy to follow, but also felt really slow until about the last 1/4th of the book.

I think that one of the main things that stuck out to me with this version is how well Ms White shows how women were treated during the time period. Elizabeth was only a teen and was dependent on the Frankenstein family. She also had no idea she had an inheritance coming to her at the age of 21. This meant she felt a lot of pressure to marry and ensure that she became more fully a part of the family so that she could have safety and security. Mr. Frankenstein, however, took advantage and once he came to the point that his financial hardships became a burden, he was quick to support the marriage between Elizabeth and Victor.

Unfortunately for Elizabeth, as soon as she is married and understands the full extent of Victor's madness, she wants no part in the future he envisions. When she fights Victor, he puts her in an asylum. While there she discovers that this is an easy way for men at that time to get rid of "disobedient" wives, or wives who are trying to flee an abusive marriage. Many of the women locked up in the asylum are not crazy, they are just strong women trying to live their best life in a patriarchal society.

There is a twist at the end of the story that will make you wonder if Elizabeth truly escaped the fate that Victor had in store for her.

All in all, a great book if you can get past the slow start.
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Unfortunately my Amazon account got hacked numerous times and I closed my account. When closing the account, I lost all of my electronic kindle ARCs from netgalley under that email including this title which I am unable to review
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Kiersten White's reimagining of Frankenstein is as richly dark and Gothic as I expected it to be. Elizabeth is an orphan taken in and raised by the Frankensteins, and watching Victor grow into the madman that he becomes is quite interesting from Elizabeth's unique point of view. There are pretty graphic depictions of violence that may turn away some readers, but overall, I find it to be a strong retelling of the classic. I can imagine using this in a teaching unit while reading the original novel, with a special focus on analyzing both texts through a gender lens.
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I just read Frankenstein and was struck by how very self-centered Victor Frankenstein was. Elizabeth, his doomed bride, barely gets an appearance in the book and Victor mostly notes how she "belongs to him". Creepy, Victor. Elizabeth finally gets a voice in this book, and I love that the author dedicated the book to "those who feel like a side character in their own story".

In this book, Elizabeth is given life. She is a scrappy young woman who knows that her security is hanging by a thread, a thread that Victor Frankenstein holds. She has mostly convinced herself that her dependence on Victor equals love (probably because fooling herself this way helps her to survive), but here and there you can see uneasiness. Elizabeth is extremely protective of Victor because if anything happens to him, she will be cast out of the Frankenstein house with no resources. At the beginning of the book, she is traveling with her maid/friend Justine to figure out why Victor has been incommunicado ever since he went to university. The book traces most of the Frankenstein story through Elizabeth's eyes.

I really liked Elizabeth and found her a very believable character. She isn't perfect, and that's part of what I liked about her. She is selfish and uses people and she knows it. Elizabeth manipulates people to survive but as a consequence she hasn't let anyone truly know her. (At least, so Elizabeth thinks. We don't know how other characters truly see her). As Elizabeth slowly becomes more honest with herself about what Victor is, the tension in the book grows. This is a gothic tale and I mostly have little patience with this sort of story, but because I was invested in Elizabeth I kept reading eagerly. Elizabeth uses what power she can and is determined not to be a victim, but ultimately as a nineteenth century woman her life and livelihood is dependent on how men treat her.

I loved how the author built her characters and how she justified Elizabeth's actions in a believable, if not always flattering, way. She made the Frankenstein story much more interesting and also took a piercing look at how women must often behave in order to survive in a world where their welfare is dependent on men. I'm interested to read more by this author.
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Fantastically freakish in the way that we all know Kiersten White can only do! Readers will love this reimagined version of a classic tale.
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Starts out slow, but it does pick up. My only wish is that we could've had more adventures with the dynamic trio towards the end. Or a sequel where they go around and solve mysteries.
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Kiersten White is an 'auto-buy author' for me and this book is no exception. This re-telling/imagining of the Frankenstein story was very individual, imaginative, and compelling
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Introspective retelling!
Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White!
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a fresh and unique retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic story. I love the female protagonist, Elizabeth. Her background has been lonely and she’s always struggling to secure her place in the world, much like women of the time period the story takes place in. The mystery intrigued me and after Elizabeth’s background was set, the action and mystery picked up the story’s pace. Tragedy seems to strike all too often around the Frankenstein manor where Elizabeth was taken in as a young girl. Her favorite companion has always been Victor Frankenstein and he claims ownership and complete companionship of Elizabeth. The story becomes darker as it progresses, which makes it even more interesting to read. Historical fiction, horror, and a retelling earn 5 stars! Kudos to Kiersten White for her remarkable retelling!
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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a Frankenstein retelling told from the live in boarders POV. Elizabeth was a young orphan when the Frankensteins found her living in a hovel with a caretaker that liked to beat her for being a burden to the family. The Frankensteins were looking for a playmate for their son, who was deeply disturbed and didnt relate well to people. The story is told mostly from the time when Elizabeth is in her late teens, and is looking for Victor because she thinks that the she is going to lose her home while he is off at university and no longer needs her anymore. The story is also told from flashbacks that Elizabeth has of her and Victor growing up together. 

Im not sure where to start with this book. I received this book originally as an ARC but never got around to it while it was in its ARC form. I have been wanting to read it for some time now, and went out and got the physical copy. I finally decided to go ahead and give it a try when I needed a retelling for the readathon that I was doing. There was an audiobook option for it and so that's the format that I picked because i though that it would be the most creepy way to take in the story. I was right. This story was fascinating and creepy and thoughtful all at the same time. I have never read the original Frankenstein, but after reading this I want to. 

My only criticism for the story, is that it felt like it was missing something. I dont know if that something would have been fixed if i had read the original. I gave the story 4/5 stars because it was a fascinating story and an interesting look at a character i have always been curious about.  

I thought that the method of telling this story was very interesting. Kiersten White decided to tell this story from Elizabeths POV as a way to give a tribute to Mary Shelley. In Whites authors note she says that there is nothing more terrifying then a teenage girl. I though that was a very cool way to think about the motivation for this book, because Shelley herself was only a teenage girl when she wrote the story. 

So now i need to go read the original.
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My Goodreads Review:
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As a disclaimer, it's been about a decade and a half since I actually read Frankenstein. So I'm judging this book on its own merits, and what little I remember of the Frankenstein story. To be fair, I also think that most people aren't likely to have read Frankenstein recently either. It's a wonderful classic, but it's not exactly making the best seller list on a regular basis anymore.

I like the fact that this book follows Elizabeth. Exploring some of the minor characters from the tale was a good way to take on a classic without making it a straight up retelling. The cover of the book is absolutely gorgeous as well. Unfortunately, this is where my praise for the book ends.

I get that the author was attempting to go for a character that was morally ambiguous, or an anti-hero, but I didn't find the execution worked for me. I found the character of Elizabeth to be incredibly inconsistent. For example, she might, in one scene, be upset over the death of animals, yet in the next, she'll be actively helping Victor butcher. I expect her character to do what needs to be done, but her internal monologue doesn't reflect the conflict I'd expect to find there. There was also a lot of exposition of her internally thinking about how everyone thought that she was so beautiful, which was a pretty big turn-off for me.

There was also a lot of telling, not showing. The use of flashbacks was disconcerting and broke up the flow of the story. While I can appreciate a non-linear story, the flashbacks in this book took us out of the story to add needless exposition. The transitions between the past and present are not particularly well-done either. They typically end with a character saying something like 

“Where are you?” she asked, putting a gentle hand on my shoulder.
I sighed. “In the past."

It just rubbed me the wrong way, especially as there are dozens of these flashbacks interspersed with the story randomly and the transitions are almost always equally clumsy.

If you're a huge fan of Frankenstein, you might like this better than I did. I hope you do. For me, this was a pretty big disappointment, since I've read some particularly good 'dark' books lately.
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Really freaking good! I absolutely love how disturbing and haunting it was. Kiersten absolutely kills it!
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One of my most anticipated reads of 2018! I loved to read about Victor Frankenstein. This is a must for lovers of Mary Shelley's great classic.
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I really wanted to love this book, but had a really difficult time getting into the story. Elizabeth was quite unlikeable as a protagonist and I didn't feel motivated to continue reading. I may try to pick this title up again at a later date, but for now, it's a no thanks.
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This book is dark in a different way than The Conqueror's Saga was, and I appreciate how easily White is able to change her writing depending on the narrative of each new book. In The Conqueror's Saga books, there was a clear, tactical motive behind every action, regardless of how cruel it may have seemed. In this book, however, it's much more difficult to sympathize with Victor's motivations, making his crimes all the more horrific. I agree that there was some weird pacing in places - it didn't feel as fluid as her other books. I also almost wish that the story were told as a flashback from where Elizabeth winds up in the end (though I've read many a flashback book gone awry...). Overall, a good blend of historical fiction and retelling a classic. Probably not my favorite of her books, but Elizabeth is one badass of a character.
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the book was wonderful. I love stories that are dark and a bit twisted. This had a great combination of both. I will recommend this book. A great and easy read
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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein from the perspective of Elizabeth Lavenza, who in the original tale exists only as an angelic presence who loves and comforts Victor unconditionally. Though Kiersten White’s storytelling, Elizabeth is given a character and a voice; she is clever, manipulative, and secretive. This was all wonderful, and I very much enjoyed how morally gray Elizabeth was, but I could have done without being beaten over the head with it constantly.

This is a gripe I’m beginning to have with YA writing trends in general; there’s this patronizing, almost condescending style that insists on spelling every little thing out for the reader…over and over and over again. Every other chapter it was Elizabeth musing on how fractured her personality was, how manipulative she was being, how morally gray she was…and it’s just one of those things that, when mentioned too much, loses its appeal. I don’t want my morally gray ladies constantly lamenting how morally gray they are; I just want them to be morally gray. It got to a point where I was rolling my eyes at reading basically the same sentiment yet again.

The YA-ness of it all had me struggling with the ending as well. First of all, I have to tell you that twice I thought I had reached the end of the book, only to be surprised with another chapter. The first time I was like, oh, okay, that’s a nicely ambiguous ending, I guess I can get on board with that. The second time I was like, oh wow, that is dark and depressing and I don’t know if I like it, but I respect it. Then I read the actual ending, and I usually don’t mind endings of that sort, but it all just seemed a little too la-di-da for me, you know? This is a tale that has consistently dipped its toes into darkness and depravity, yet continued to hold back.

The last quarter of the book veers sharply from the original Frankenstein tale, which I hadn’t been expecting. I suppose I should have, considering how different Victor Frankenstein’s character is in White’s version. In Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor is sane and well-meaning, if obsessive and cowardly. In White’s version, Victor is very nearly a sociopath, with intense fits of rage that Elizabeth must learn to manage in order to make him fall in love with her. This change – and the change in the plot – wasn’t necessarily bad, just very, very surprising.

I do think White did a superb job portraying the abusive relationship between Victor and Elizabeth, to the point where I was almost disappointed when things when things inevitably when sour and Victor’s insane side made itself known. Because as the reader, you’ve always seen that side of him even when Elizabeth hasn’t, but because you sympathize with Elizabeth so much, you almost come to mourn the relationship Elizabeth thought she had. At first I thought Victor’s behavior was an abrupt shift in character (and part of me still thinks that his character should have been more subtle) but the more I thought about it the more I realized that Elizabeth’s perspective had simply shifted; Victor hadn’t changed at all. Only now, he took to hurting even Elizabeth to satisfy his own desires (even if those desires were all about her).

I’m rambling. What can I say? This is an objectively good book; it’s well-written, it’s atmospheric, it’s feminist, and it flips an old tale completely on its head. It’s good. It just didn’t mesh with me as well as I hoped it would. I enjoyed it, but something about it also grated; whether that was because I wasn’t satisfied with the ending or because I grew frustrated with the heavy-handedness of it all, I’m not certain. But don’t let my lukewarm review discourage you, please; this really is a fantastic book, and is a very strong 3.5 stars, but something is holding me back from loving it completely.
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I absolutely fucking love Frankenstein  (the book, not the character, Victor Frankenstein is a self absorbed, narcissistic asshole), so this was pretty much 100% made for me. Such a gorgeous honoring of the original tale, the faultiness of our own perspectives & what happens when we rewrite our stories to fit other people & their worldviews, and an absolutely horrifying look at the monsters we all humans harbor inside.
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