I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein a long, long time ago, so my memory of it is rather dim. However, I’ve seen Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein quite a few times. I’m not entirely unfamiliar with the source material, but it’s mainly through a pop culture lens.
But thankfully, you don’t have to be a Frankenstein scholar to enjoy The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kierstin White. No, you just have to be willing to be intrigued, horrified yet fascinated, spooked and maybe even scared, and to be left emotionally bereft. Because this book is a roller coaster. So much happens! And there are so many feelings along the way!
I really wasn’t expecting the emotional punch this book landed. The narrator is Elizabeth Frankenstein, a morally gray character and a somewhat unreliable point of view. I love a good anti-hero and with Elizabeth, White deftly runs a fine line between a character you love to hate and someone you actively root for. Through Elizabeth, White interrogates what makes a monster monstrous and what makes someone human and fallible. I really loved, loved, loved how White explores the precarious position of women in society during the nineteenth century and how that impacts Elizabeth’s choices.
This isn’t a particularly gory or visceral book, but it is spooky and dreadful. It’s a little slow to start, but once things get going, whoa does the book take off. Some plot twists took my breath away and others I kinda saw coming. And I’m a gullible reader– so if I saw it coming, it must be pretty obvious. Overall, I was enthralled while reading this book, turning the pages late into the night. 4 stars.