Review: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein – Kiersten White

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Publisher: Delacorte Press (September 25, 2018)

Print Length: 304 pages

Audiobook Length: 10 hrs and 15 mins

Audiobook Narrator: Katharine McEwan

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.

The Review

Much like its source material, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a slow, dark, atmospheric burn that at its core continues to pose the question of how far can a person go, scientifically, before they cross an ethical line. White expertly captures the spirit of Frankenstein and presents a feminist retelling to a new generation.

In Frankenstein, as was the culture, all primary characters were male. However, in The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, White brings to life characters that were seemingly overlooked, both in Shelly’s works and in the society at that time. It was impressive to see a character such as Elizabeth be so sure of her convictions, regardless of the fact that one could argue that said convictions solely relied on the happiness of a man (Victor). I felt the emotions Elizabeth went through, and I loved her relationships with both Justine and Mary.

However, the reason I felt this book didn’t rate higher comes in two parts. First, I believe that the novel could have been longer. As I said previous, this is a rather slow book, and I felt that it suffered from its meager 304 page count. If the book had been even just 80 pages longer, the story could have felt more complete and the last 70 pages less rushed. Second, I really didn’t route for the relationship between Elizabeth and Victor. Besides being a tad too Stockholm syndrome-y for my own personal reading tastes, I was really routing for Elizabeth to come to her senses and decide that ‘Team Elizabeth’ was the relationship worth routing for.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo

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And those are my thoughts on The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White. Have any YA historical fiction recommendations you think I should check out? Leave them as a comment below and help my TBR grow.


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