‘The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein’ by Kiersten White – Book Review

Blurb from Goodreads

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.

My Review

I read this with my book group… If I wasn’t reading it for the sake of our discussion I think I would have DNFd it after reading the blurb as from the blurb alone it feels like the key message of Shelley’s Frankenstein has been eroded for the sake of YA feminism…..

WHAT A LOL THIS IS BECAUSE MARY SHELLEY IS A BEACON OF FEMINISM AND I LOVE THE SUBTLE CHARACTERISATION AND ALL THE FEMINIST UNDERPLAYS REGARDING THE CHARACTER OF ELIZABETH IN THE ORIGINAL.

From reading the dedication:

For everyone made to feel like a side character in their own story.

See this annoys me. Because to me it appears that White is saying that Elizabeth is a side character in the original story of Frankenstein like that’s a bad thing?????

And I think that’s insulting to Mary Shelley and sort of implying that it’s somewhat un-feminist. Well that’s how I’m interpreting it. Because ultimately Shelley is the one who decided to write the original Frankenstein as she wished. And she gave the leading role to Victor. Like that’s not a bad thing. It’s not anti-feminist to write about a man, if you get me….

Originally I thought that ‘The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein’ was a gender swapped story… So because it’s not gender swapped I just don’t see this book as having the gravitas of the original. The original book asks questions of right versus wrong and pretty much demands of you to choose which side you fall on

I’m rating this book one star because to me it spoon fed the reader. It treated anyone reading like an unintelligent buffoon and left absolutely nothing up to the reader to decide for themselves by painting out for us who is bad and who is good.

Case in point the complete character bashing of Victor…

Victor is just bad. Bad. Very bad…

There is no complexity given to his character. No nuance given to his actions. He just becomes a one dimensional hate figure and villain of the piece unlike in the original where his character was a symphony in moral ambiguity.

White’s version is just much too heavy handed with how she plotted it. In an effort to be feminist, she created one dimensional *strong* female characters and similarly one dimensional hateful male characters.

HOW IS THAT FEMINIST????

Please let’s not raise up the female gender at the expense of the male one. The true meaning of feminism is equality so I expect characters that are not merely crafted to suit an ill-informed agenda i.e. don’t just crap on the men to get your point across. Raise up women and female led stories by making all of your characters authentic.

There is so much wrong with this re-imagining that I can’t.
I CAN’T 

“Victor. Is the genius,” Mary said, patting a stiff section of her furs. She pulled them aside to reveal his journals.

“Also insufferable. Did you know he was keeping a journal, too? He was writing an account of his life, but editing out the parts where he murdered people for their body parts. He made himself the hero. I think he fears his legacy, should anyone discover what he has done, and wants to control what they know. You are – if you were worried – an angel on Earth, faultless, beautiful, and utterly and completely in love with him.”

“I had no idea he had such a talent for fiction.”

“Mm,” she said. “You were also murdered by Adam on your wedding night! Such drama. Victor was committed to an asylum for some time after, so great was his mourning.”

“That insufferable ass,” I hissed.

Mary laughed. “He certainly has a flair for talking about himself. And so many descriptions of mountains! He is quite enamoured of their grandeur.”

“You should burn his journals.”

Does this not outrage anyone else? Well outrage for those among you that have read Shelley’s original book.
Because to me, Kiersten White is daring to call the original Frankenstein a journal from Victor’s PoV.

And she says to burn the journals…..

I LEGIT CAN’T WITH HER!

KIERSTEN WHITE YOU TRUMPED UP FAN FICTION WRITER WOULD HAVE NOTHING IF IT WERE NOT FOR SHELLEY’S JOURNALS AS SHE DEIGNED TO CALL THEM

Like TINY detail here but the original is in fact written from three separate perspectives in three volumes so are not just Victor’s thoughts!!! 

So if you want to read a run of the mill YA about a girl who’s so unlike all other girls because she’s just that *spechul*, and you’re happy to be spoon-fed Kiersten White’s version of which characters are all goodness and light versus the ones that are all dark and evil then sure, read this reimagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and you might enjoy it and be all ‘girl power’ woo!!!

If however you relish delicious moral ambiguity and writing that is brimful of subtlety and nuance then skip this subpar fan fiction and read the original classic.

One Star to Kiersten White. Less if I could

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14 thoughts on “‘The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein’ by Kiersten White – Book Review

  1. “It’s not anti-feminist to write about a man, if you get me….” OH I TOTALLYYY GET YOU HON!! YOU PREACH IT GURLLLL!! 😍😍❤️❤️

    And although I couldn’t really understand the passage because I havent read Frankenstein yet, I am still totally onboard with your hate for this one because it seems like the author did the original book dirty! 😡😡😡 AND I HATE HER FOR IT NOWWW!

    AND I LOOVEEEEE YOUUUU SOOO MUCH FOR YOUR PASSIONATE AND HONEST REVIEWWWWWW!! 😍😍😍❤️❤️❤️😘😘😘🌟🌟

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Rain this book annoyed me so much!! It just didn’t feel respectful to the source material and I could not cope!!! The ambiguity of motivation, the intensity of emotion, the complexity of character…. IT WAS ALL MISSING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh not a good read at all…. :-/

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh dear! Sounds like everything that could have gone wrong with this book did! I hate books that don’t allow the reader to interpret information in their own way and it seems like that happened here which is a shame to see. Hope your next read is much better!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I
    love
    this
    REVIEW

    EMERRRRR. i HAVE NEVER SEEN MEAN EMER BEFORE AND I LOVE IT.

    And I think that’s insulting to Mary Shelley and sort of implying that it’s somewhat un-feminist. Well that’s how I’m interpreting it. Because ultimately Shelley is the one who decided to write the original Frankenstein as she wished. And she gave the leading role to Victor. Like that’s not a bad thing. It’s not anti-feminist to write about a man, if you get me….

    this. this entire section. ooof. so much truth in it. god. see. i started this book but i did not get very far because i got bored very very fast lmao. i was like where the hell is this going and do i really care enough to see the end???
    i did not.
    so to know that it came to basically THIS? ugh…i don’t want to read about some special snowflake essentially. this sounds like a hot ass mess and it’s gross to me that she’s trying to wave away shelley’s legacy.

    fantastic amazing review.

    Liked by 1 person

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