4 stars · 5 stars · Books · Fiction · Historical · Retellings · Reviews · Young Adult

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

Well, this was a book which kept me flipping the pages. With twists that I didn’t expect and was in all ways, entertaining, but also full of depth.

What happens when a girl is given to the Frankenstein family? What happens if she is raised to know to win his love, and he only has the eyes for her.

Is he her knight in shining armour? Or her own worst nightmare?

This expands it to show that Elizabeth is cautious, engineering her way into the hearts of the Frankenstein. Becoming indispensable to them, and valuable to Victor. Something that he can’t replace.

Because of her background, as one who was thrown into this in an attempt to find her a home. And the chance she gets, she takes it in all regards. And ensures that she would never lose her home again.

It is a novel about what it means to have everything hang by a thread, and to do everything to preserve it. Elizabeth doesn’t just have feelings for Victor, it is also a manipulative side to it. She can have a comfortable life by winning them over, and thus she does all she can to make them love her.

The twist here is later on, but was intriguing in how it played out. Elizabeth at the end of the day, is a woman who is aware of her position, and not a naive innocent girl. She is where she is today because of her manipulation and acting.

Even Justine, who is the real naive and innocent girl is rather intelligent and a full part of the story. Likeable, caring and could have ended up better.

Was this perfect? No, not really. It had flaws. Especially in Victor, for reasons which I won’t mention until you read the book. But there was a lot more that could be done with his character than what I saw there.

But it kept me reading because of Elizabeth. Defined by her past, to be told that nothing is certain and to be so very afraid. It is normal, most certainly so in a teenage girl whose first caretaker was basically an abuser. Terrified that if she were to be cast out, that she would probably head back to a terrible, sorry life.

And thus, she endears herself to everyone. Carefully playing, acting in a way that would make them like her. Willing to be possessed by anyone, provided she was safe.

This was a really intriguing book which explores the idea of what it means to raise someone on the idea that she would belong to him. And a girl who never had a sense of security in her life, and realizing that she would always have to do more to secure it and not dependent on others for charity.

That was the reality of a woman in the 18th century. Nothing would change that. And for Elizabeth, it proved all the difference. The need for her to stand in the back and try to win his affection to turn it to her favour. Even if the relationship would be to any modern woman, a big red flag in terms of how the power dynamics are. But for her, it’s the best she can manage in those times and her circumstances.

And of course, it makes for a delightful, unnerving read.

Best parts: Narrative Agency, Narration, Strong character writing

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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