Hello Humans! Today I am reviewing one of the books I read as part of my OWNVEMBER challenge. I tasked myself with reducing the number of owned books I had (by which I mean non-arcs) on my TBR. One of the first books I read was also one of my most anticipated reads for the year, Kiersten White’s The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein. I actually read this book on Halloween, because I’m a sucker for reading to a theme!
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 had originally planned to read the original Frankenstein before I read this book, but I didn’t manage to get to it (I have plans for next year don’t worry) so I have no doubt that there were a lot of nuances that I might have missed, quite often retellings like this are more powerful for having read the original material. However, I do not think you have to read the original to enjoy this book.
Because I absolutely loved every minute of it.
This book is the retelling I’ve been waiting for. It’s dark, it’s powerful, it’s got that creepiness that I need. I didn’t move from the sofa for around three hours while I read it I was so enraptured by this story.
I feel like this shouldn’t need saying for a Kiersten White book at this point (or for a retelling of a classic Horror novel), but this is not for the faint-hearted. There are some nasty things that happen in this book (mostly murder and other kinds of violence, if you’re worried about anything specific and want content warnings please do get in touch) and it’s certainly not a comfortable read.
What I enjoyed about this book is that Elizabeth isn’t portrayed as a poor innocent girl who gets caught up in Victor’s ‘madness’. In more than one situation Elizabeth is almost complicit in his actions, at the very least covering for him. It’s clear that she thinks she is doing the right thing, and she is obviously the victim of Victor’s abuse, but she makes her own choices and the moment where she fully comprehends all that has been done and what she now must do to make things right is truly heartwrenching. I read the original Dracula earlier this year and got so fed up with all the female characters, Elizabeth feels like the antithesis of all those classic horror heroines.
I adore the way that Kiersten White writes, I think it’s safe to say I will be ordering pretty much everything she ever publishes from here to the end of time. The way she describes some of the places and, what stuck with me more, the buildings in this story are so evocative I could fully picture them in my mind.
I could wax lyrical about minute aspects of this book for another thousand words, but it’s hard to do without spoiling anything. If you, like me, enjoy a book that veers towards the dark, then I urge you to go out and order this book. It will shake you to the core with that delicious horror feeling – and you’ll love every second.
My rating: 5/5 stars
I bought this book myself. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Please tell me you’re going to read this! Let me know in the comments below.