Elizabeth Lavenza knows her place: she's the calming influence over Victor Frankenstein's violent moods, and if she stops being useful to the Frankensteins, she'll have nowhere to go. When Victor stops writing letters from university in Ingolstadt, Elizabeth, who's terrified of becoming unnecessary, sets out to track him down. What she finally discovers is gruesome, albeit awe-inspiring, but her instinct to protect him is impossible to fight. As Victor's actions become more deranged, however, Elizabeth can't bring herself to be a willing accomplice. In this clever retelling of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, White neatly undercuts the original by making Victor's narrative wildly unreliable. Elizabeth, who's a minor character in Shelley's novel, takes center stage here, and her development is the emotional heart of the story. After enduring years of gaslighting by both Victor Frankenstein and his father, she gradually comes to realize her own strength and becomes powerful in her own right. While readers of the original might get more out of it, this character-driven novel with a healthy amount of gore should appeal to horror fans, too. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A hefty marketing campaign and author tour should drum up extra attention for best-selling White's latest. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
With this elegantly twisted retelling of the birth of a monster, White (Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales) resurrects the Gothic tale of survival found in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which turns 200 this year. Rescued from an abusive caregiver at age five, Elizabeth Lavenza is brought to the Frankenstein family's villa to act as companion to young Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant child prone to rage. Elizabeth becomes everything to Victor—his champion and protector, his friend and confidante—and hones her manipulative talents. But when the errant genius leaves the family to study and doesn't write for almost two years, leaving Elizabeth open to possible dismissal from the Frankenstein home, she enlists the aid of her friend Justine to track him down. What she discovers in a strange Bavarian town is another link in a chain of horror that only grows after he's found. Skillful worldbuilding and foreshadowing steadily build suspense to a breathtaking climax. Fans of psychological horror will luxuriate in the familiar feel of the timeless story and thrill at its unexpected twists. Ages 12–up. Agent: Michelle Wolfson, Wolfson Literary. (Sept.)
Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 9 Up—A retelling of Mary Shelley's classic novel from the point of view of Elizabeth Lavenza, Victor Frankenstein's eventual wife. A relatively minor character in Frankenstein, Elizabeth takes center stage here. The story begins as Elizabeth searches for Victor, who has been incommunicado for several months. Elizabeth finds him, but also finds that he has been conducting suspicious and gory experiments in his apartment—experiments which she later discovers resulted in the monster brought to life. Since Elizabeth's security and future depend on pleasing the family and controlling Victor's violent outbursts, she has always covered for his more vicious attacks. Now she must protect him from the results of his own obsession. Italicized inserts within chapters fill in the backstory of Elizabeth's entry into the Frankenstein family—selected to be Victor's companion and friend—while the main plot continues chronologically. White adds emotional depth to a character who was passive in Shelley's original. She highlights, with feminist sensitivity, Elizabeth's total dependence as a woman of her time, playing whatever part is necessary to ensure her future. The novel continues in the gothic tradition of the source material, and the title speaks volumes about the darkness of tone and content. The language is often surprisingly lyrical with the narrative flowing smoothly despite frequent flashbacks. Twists and tweaks, especially toward the end, may take readers of Frankenstein by surprise, but will not spoil either book. VERDICT Recommended for YA collections traveling on the dark side.—Katherine Koenig, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.
A dark reimagining of Shelley's classic is told from the point of view of Elizabeth, Victor Frankenstein's adopted sister, who as they enter adulthood is challenged to manage her brother's dangerous temper and inclination to pursue depraved experiments. By the best-selling author of the And I Darken series. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)
The events of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein unfold from the perspective of Elizabeth Lavenza, who is taken in by the Frankensteins as a companion for their son Victor and whose survival depends on managing his temper and entertaining his every whim. - (Baker & Taylor)
The events of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein unfold from the perspective of Elizabeth Lavenza, who is adopted as a child by the Frankensteins as a companion for their volatile son Victor. - (Baker & Taylor)
"Exquisitely disturbing," raves internationally bestselling author Stephanie Garber of this stunning and dark reimagining of Frankenstein.
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.
"Exquisitely disturbing. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a beautiful tapestry of horror, sewn together with threads of madness, obsession, and murder. Kiersten White has written a masterful and monstrous retelling."—STEPHANIE GARBER, #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Caraval and Legendary
"Visceral, sinister, and inescapably compelling, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein feels at once reverent of its inspiration, and entirely new. White's skill is scalpel-sharp." VICTORIA SCHWAB, #1 New York Times bestselling author of This Savage Song
“Kiersten White has breathed fresh life into a much-loved classic. Even Mary Shelley herself would be riveted by the dark lengths Elizabeth Lavenza would go to in order to survive. A dark and lovely midnight read.—MEGAN SHEPHERD, New York Times bestselling author of The Madman's Daughter trilogy
"In the hands of master storyteller Kiersten White, the bones of a familiar story are reconstructed to form an inventive, grotesque, and completely unexpected reimagining of Frankenstein. Mary Shelley would be proud."—MACKENZI LEE, New York Times bestselling author of The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue - (Random House, Inc.)