Jan 24 2019

The Dark Descent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

It’s interesting how quickly one’s sympathy for a young girl raised to cosset a psychopath plummets as she goes from teaching him social skills to actively enabling his monstrous tendencies. And in this political climate, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for a woman who knows that her man is a shit but feels she has to protect him in order to protect her own way of life. Granted, Elizabeth Frankenstein faces much more dire circumstances in 18th century Europe than she would in the modern day, but that didn’t mean I had to root for her till she finally came to her senses.

That aside, I quite enjoyed this retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that makes it very, very clear that the real monster here is the doctor, not his creation. Friendships are what ultimately save Elizabeth, and I must say that Mary Delgado is much more forgiving than I was — but Mary is also a product of the time, so it’s easier for her (and also I’m a grudge holder myself.) Kiersten White’s intelligent use of perspective re-imagines the classic in ways that point out the true horrors of her source material, teasing out subtext and really making the reader reconsider their prior notions.

I’m ambivalent about the inclusion of said classic in the ebook version, however. Ms White has a terrific imagination and style, but her writing cannot help but pale in comparison with Ms Shelley’s. It’s great to be able to readily reference the original in the same volume, especially for the teenage target audience who might not yet have read it, but the vivid 19th century prose washes out the preceding text, which does a disservice to Ms White’s achievement here.

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