The Dark Decent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
The Special Boy
Gifted at her retelling of stories in other well known universes, Kiersten White dives deep into the Mary Shelly classic with narrative that took place during Victor's experimental years at the University when he finally gets it right and creates life.
Told from the prospective of Elizabeth in a new way, putting the minor character that was once loved and looked upon first as a sister and cousin and then a potential lover- the old notions we had about how the Frankenstein had taken in the two girls into their household of boys was altered for an original experience casting everyone in the family in a slightly darker tone.
Not much is known about Elizabeth's origin at the beginning of The Dark Decent Of Elizabeth Frankenstein. We know she was taken in by a woman with many other kids under her care and she found cause to abuse the girl as often as possible.
When she had the chance to unload her, she crafted a story that Elizabeth's father was a wealthy man that had been put into prison and her mother dead, his estate to be left to Elizabeth when she came to age.
While Mrs. Frankenstein was looking for a companion to still the queer and destructive behaviors of young Victor, her husband, the Judge had other things on his mind that selecting a playmate and hoped that the rumors of her inheritance were truth.
Victor was special, she was told. He would be her greatest friend and she quickly won him over being the only one that could soothe his early malice, even as he pulled a knife on his parents one evening.
Elizabeth's skill to keep Victor inline proved her worth and she was allowed to stay.
Early on a young Victor showed fascination in medical sciences, often wanting to strip the skin off the bones of animals and his playmates. While Elizabeth was sometimes fearful that Victor might actually hurt someone seriously, she stood up for him out of love and devotion and often helped hide his evidence.
A Place For Elizabeth
Elizabeth was pretending.
She knew her whole life she was just acting in the place of a girl that lived with the Frankenstein family but she was never one of their number, even after the death of the Mrs and the coming of more children.
She went by her old last name and was cast as a cousin to the family to distance herself from being formally adopted. They bought her fine clothing but it was up to Victor to educate her with his discarded school books. She eventually learned several languages and basic studies unbecoming of a woman- but it made Victor all the more fascinated with her.
She knew it was his approval alone that kept her in the household, even after she had found the addition of a governess for the children even though they had already had one.
Feeling sorry for a young abused girl named Justine, she convinced Victor to fire the current governess so that Justine could be appointed. She saved Justine the way Victor had saved her, but Elizabeth knew she was just as dark as her playmate and she too was just pretending to be a fine young woman.
Elizabeth mourned Victor going to University as he was the only thing that cemented to her the family. While she loved him in her own way and spent many years protecting his morbid secrets like an attack on his younger brother that was later blamed on a nanny, Elizabeth knew that she had to become Victor's wife to have any place with the Frankenstein's after she found that the Judge was greatly in debt and looking to sell his assets.
Forgiving His Strangeness
Convince Justine to go with her as the Judge left town for several days, Elizabeth was insistent that they would hunt down Victor and find out why he no longer was writing after a strange letter from Henry.
Finding out their friend had wished to marry her in Victor's place and then went missing himself somewhere in London, Elizabeth and Justine visit the University interviewing doctors, professors, and the bookstore owner until finally finding a clue.
Entering his set of rooms in a building that was warned to have strangeness about it, Elizabeth freezes up as she searches for Victor among the mess. She finds him feverish and out of his mind in an apartment with detached body parts and strange anatomy drawings.
His journal details a frightening narrative of wanting to create life and defy death by creating a man cobbled together from the parts he had purchased from the nearby morgue under Henry's name.
Doing what she had always done to protect him about all else, Elizabeth gets Victor medical help and burns down the apartment to hide the evidence.
She swears that she sees someone strange watching her when she and Justine return to the estate but brushes it off. Victor was to return home in a months time and promises Elizabeth that they will finally marry.
Judge Frankenstein welcomes the marriage of Elizabeth and Victor when he is to return home the following month although it is well known that he bankrupt.
At The End Of Justine's Rope
The women arrive home and Elizabeth feels everything will be back to normal. The Judge even seems okay with the marriage of his son and the girl that they have raised as a niece all these years.
Even Justine is happy back to be with the children she cares for and has almost forgotten everything that has happened while looking for Victor in the city.
Then one night as the family is off at a picnic, William goes missing, his body later found on a blanket with his tiny throat bruised and the pendant locket that Elizabeth had let him wear with a tiny painting of Mrs. Frankenstein was gone.
As they search for the boy, they learn Justine too was gone. Recently hearing of the death of her own mother who she hated her whole life, she still mourned for her loss in silence.
Finding Justine with the locket and no explanation to where she had been, she was arrested for the crime and eventually hung to her death.
Elizabeth sees the misshapen man in the woods again and begins to think this monster has been stalking her since she left Victor's. She fears this was the project that he was working on and that his creation was now loose.
That his monster of Victor Frankenstein had killed William and now they might all be in danger.
When he is back home, Victor and Elizabeth quickly marry and the reason for the approval is now well known as the Judge expects that Elizabeth will now come into the inheritance that was promised when she was purchased from the woman long ago.
The Judge doesn't believe that this could have been just a tale to unload the girl and tells Elizabeth there was no way he would have taken her in and kept her so long if it would never have benefited the family in the long run. With the marriage of Elizabeth to Victor he could now pay off his debts.
Victor takes her side and says that they will never share her fortune with his father but he has his own morbid reasons for wanting Elizabeth as he has promised something to his monster.
A bride in his own image.
We Become Victor's Creations
With a twist on the story, White has Elizabeth realize finally that it is Victor that is the true monster and that his creation while it desires just a life like any other, is not the one to blame for the death of William and the set of up of Justine's death just to get her body.
While most of Kiersten White's books are trilogies, nothing has been yet announced for a second installment in this series although there is plenty of potential of advancing the plot through different characters or changing the events as the female monster doesn't last long.
Keeping to the original, the monster is never referred to by Victor's surname in the book and instead is going by Adam as the biblical first man created.
This novel was a fantastic read and I hope to see a few more books completing the series.