The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

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Annotation: The events of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" unfold from the perspective of Elizabeth Lavenza, who is adopted as a child by the Frankensteins as a companion for their volatile son, Victor.
Catalog Number: #167645
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Random House
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 292 pages
Availability: Special Order Only - Contact Customer Service at +1 800 637-6581 or +1 217 243-5451
ISBN: Publisher: 0-525-57794-7 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-2265-1
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-525-57794-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-2265-0
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017037621
Dimensions: 23 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Elizabeth Lavenza knows her place: she's the calming influence over Victor Frankenstein's violent moods, and if she stops being useful to the Frankensteins, she'll have nowhere to go. When Victor stops writing letters from university in Ingolstadt, Elizabeth, who's terrified of becoming unnecessary, sets out to track him down. What she finally discovers is gruesome, albeit awe-inspiring, but her instinct to protect him is impossible to fight. As Victor's actions become more deranged, however, Elizabeth can't bring herself to be a willing accomplice. In this clever retelling of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, White neatly undercuts the original by making Victor's narrative wildly unreliable. Elizabeth, who's a minor character in Shelley's novel, takes center stage here, and her development is the emotional heart of the story. After enduring years of gaslighting by both Victor Frankenstein and his father, she gradually comes to realize her own strength and becomes powerful in her own right. While readers of the original might get more out of it, this character-driven novel with a healthy amount of gore should appeal to horror fans, too. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A hefty marketing campaign and author tour should drum up extra attention for best-selling White's latest.
Horn Book
In this electrifying re-visioning of Shelley's classic horror tale, Victor Frankenstein considers helpmate Elizabeth his property, and obsesses over the re-animation of body parts to achieve his ultimate goal of keeping Elizabeth and himself alive forever. The crisp, clean prose has a definite Gothic flavor; captivated readers will avidly plumb this novel's "dark and hellish" depths in the company of the complicated and compelling narrator/protagonist Elizabeth Frankenstein.
Kirkus Reviews
White's (Bright We Burn, 2018, etc.) timely retelling of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is told from the point of view of 17-year-old Elizabeth Lavenza, ward of the Frankensteins and caretaker of Victor Frankenstein.Elizabeth's childhood was full of loss and despair. In the Frankenstein home she was cared for as long as she socialized Victor and kept him calm, but he has gone off to study and fallen out of contact. Without him, she feels her future is uncertain, as he was the reason for her existence in his family's home. Fearing that she will be once again destitute, Elizabeth convinces her friend Justine to travel with her to find Victor and bring him back. What Elizabeth finds rocks her to her core, and, fearing for Victor's safety and future, she does all she can to protect him. But what if the monster she truly fears is not the misshapen monstrosity of Victor's creation but something with a more human form? White creates an exciting tale with strong, witty, and certainly flawed, white female protagonists. Readers will ponder whether monsters are beings that are outwardly frightening or if it is one's soul, or lack thereof, that makes one a true monster. Those familiar with the original story will enjoy the references to it scattered throughout. An all-around win for readers who enjoy (not too scary) horror, thrilling tales, and contemplating the deeper meaning of life. (Fiction. 15-18)
Publishers Weekly
With this elegantly twisted retelling of the birth of a monster, White (Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales) resurrects the Gothic tale of survival found in Mary Shelley-s Frankenstein, which turns 200 this year. Rescued from an abusive caregiver at age five, Elizabeth Lavenza is brought to the Frankenstein family-s villa to act as companion to young Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant child prone to rage. Elizabeth becomes everything to Victor-his champion and protector, his friend and confidante-and hones her manipulative talents. But when the errant genius leaves the family to study and doesn-t write for almost two years, leaving Elizabeth open to possible dismissal from the Frankenstein home, she enlists the aid of her friend Justine to track him down. What she discovers in a strange Bavarian town is another link in a chain of horror that only grows after he-s found. Skillful worldbuilding and foreshadowing steadily build suspense to a breathtaking climax. Fans of psychological horror will luxuriate in the familiar feel of the timeless story and thrill at its unexpected twists. Ages 12-up. Agent: Michelle Wolfson, Wolfson Literary. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up A retelling of Mary Shelley's classic novel from the point of view of Elizabeth Lavenza, Victor Frankenstein's eventual wife. A relatively minor character in Frankenstein, Elizabeth takes center stage here. The story begins as Elizabeth searches for Victor, who has been incommunicado for several months. Elizabeth finds him, but also finds that he has been conducting suspicious and gory experiments in his apartmentexperiments which she later discovers resulted in the monster brought to life. Since Elizabeth's security and future depend on pleasing the family and controlling Victor's violent outbursts, she has always covered for his more vicious attacks. Now she must protect him from the results of his own obsession. Italicized inserts within chapters fill in the backstory of Elizabeth's entry into the Frankenstein familyselected to be Victor's companion and friendwhile the main plot continues chronologically. White adds emotional depth to a character who was passive in Shelley's original. She highlights, with feminist sensitivity, Elizabeth's total dependence as a woman of her time, playing whatever part is necessary to ensure her future. The novel continues in the gothic tradition of the source material, and the title speaks volumes about the darkness of tone and content. The language is often surprisingly lyrical with the narrative flowing smoothly despite frequent flashbacks. Twists and tweaks, especially toward the end, may take readers of Frankenstein by surprise, but will not spoil either book. VERDICT Recommended for YA collections traveling on the dark side. Katherine Koenig, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Word Count: 85,722
Reading Level: 5.5
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.5 / points: 13.0 / quiz: 198259 / grade: Upper Grades
Lexile: HL720L

To be weak is miserable
 
 
 
Lightning clawed across the sky, tracing veins through the clouds and marking the pulse of the universe itself.
 
I sighed happily as rain slashed the carriage windows and thunder rumbled so loudly we could not even hear the wheels bump when the dirt lane met the cobblestones at the edge of Ingolstadt.
 
Justine trembled beside me like a newborn rabbit, burying her face in my shoulder. Another bolt lit our carriage with bright white clarity before rendering us temporarily deaf with a clap of thunder so loud the windows threatened to loosen.
 
"How can you laugh?" Justine asked. I had not realized I was laughing until that moment.
 
I stroked her dark hair where strands dangled free from her hat. Justine hated loud noises of any type: Slamming doors. Storms. Shouting. Especially shouting. But I had made certain she had endured none of that in the past two years. It was so odd that our separate origins--similar in cruelty, though differing in duration--had had such opposite outcomes. Justine was the most open and loving and genuinely good person I had ever known.
 
And I was--
 
Well. Not like her.
 
"Did I ever tell you Victor and I used to climb out onto the roof of the house to watch lightning storms?"
 
She shook her head, not lifting it.
 
"The way the lighting would play off the mountains, throwing them into sharp relief, as though we were watching the creation of the world itself. Or over the lake, so it looked like it was in both the sky and the water. We would be soaked by the end; it is a wonder neither of us caught our death." I laughed again, remembering. My skin--fair like my hair--would turn the most violent shades of red from the cold. Victor, with his dark curls plastered to his sallow forehead, accentuating the shadows he always bore beneath his eyes, would look like death. What a pair we were!
 
"One night," I continued, sensing Justine was calming, "lightning struck a tree on the grounds not ten body lengths from where we sat."
 
"That must have been terrifying!"
 
"It was glorious." I smiled, placing my hand flat against the cold glass, feeling the temperature beneath my lacy white gloves. "To me, it was the great and terrible power of nature. It was like seeing God."
 
Justine clucked disapprovingly, peeling herself from my side to give me a stern look. "Do not blaspheme."
 
I stuck my tongue out at her until she relented into a smile.
 
"What did Victor think of it?"
 
"Oh, he was horribly depressed for months afterward. I believe his exact phrasing was that he 'languished in valleys of incomprehensible despair.' "
 
Justine's smile grew, though with a puzzled edge. Her face was clearer than any of Victor's texts. His books always required further knowledge and intense study, while Justine was an illuminated manuscript--beautiful and treasured and instantly understandable.
 
I reluctantly pulled the curtains closed on the carriage window, sealing us away from the storm for her comfort. She had not left the house at the lake since our last disastrous trip into Geneva had ended with her insane, bereft mother attacking us. This journey into Bavaria was taxing for her. "While I saw the destruction of the tree as nature's beauty, Victor saw power--power to light up the night and banish darkness, power to end a centuries-old life in a single strike--that he cannot control or access. And nothing bothers Victor more than something he cannot control."
 
"I wish I had known him better before he left for university."
 
I patted her hand--her brown leather gloves a gift Henry had given me--before squeezing her fingers. Those gloves were far softer and warmer than my own. But Victor preferred me in white. And I loved giving nice things to Justine. She had joined the household two years earlier, when she was seventeen and I was fifteen, and had been there only a couple of months before Victor left us. She did not really know him.
 
No one did, except me. I liked it that way, but I wanted them to love each other as I loved them both.
 
"Soon you will know Victor. We shall all of us--Victor and you and me--" I paused, my tongue traitorously trying to add Henry. That was not going to happen. "We will be reunited most joyfully, and then my heart will be complete." My tone was cheery to mask the fear that underlay this entire endeavor.
 
I could not let Justine be worried. Her willingness to come as my chaperone was the only reason I had managed this trip. Judge Frankenstein had initially rejected my pleadings to check on Victor. I think he was relieved to have Victor gone, did not care when we had no word. Judge Frankenstein always said Victor would come home when he was ready, and I should not worry about it.
 
I did. Very much. Particularly after I found a list of expenses with my name at the top. He was auditing me--and soon, I had no doubt, he would determine that I was not worth holding on to. I had done too well, fixing Victor. He was out in the world, and I was obsolete to his father.
 
I would not let myself be cast out. Not after my years of hard work. Not after all I had done.
 
Fortunately, Judge Frankenstein had been called away on a mysterious journey of his own. I did not ask permission again so much as . . . leave. Justine did not know that. Her presence gave me the freedom I needed here to move about without inviting suspicion or censure. William and Ernest, Victor's younger brothers and her charges, would be fine in the care of the maid until we could return.



Excerpted from The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Don't miss this monster of a New York Times bestseller, a stunning and dark reimagining of Frankenstein that internationally bestselling author Stephanie Garber raves is "exquisitely disturbing."

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. 

**Ebook exclusive: the full text of Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN**
 
AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
 
"A masterful and monstrous retelling."—STEPHANIE GARBER, #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Caraval and Legendary

"Inescapably compelling." —VICTORIA SCHWAB, #1 New York Times bestselling author of This Savage Song
 
"An inventive, grotesque, and completely unexpected reimagining of FrankensteinMary Shelley would be proud."—MACKENZI LEE, New York Times bestselling author of The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue


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