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**
"Exquisitely disturbing. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a beautiful tapestry of horror, sewn together with threads of madness, obsession, and murder. Kiersten White has written a masterful and monstrous retelling."—STEPHANIE GARBER, #1 New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Caraval and Legendary
"Visceral, sinister, and inescapably compelling, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein feels at once reverent of its inspiration, and entirely new. White's skill is scalpel-sharp." —VICTORIA SCHWAB, #1 New York Times bestselling author of This Savage Song
“Kiersten White has breathed fresh life into a much-loved classic. Even Mary Shelley herself would be riveted by the dark lengths Elizabeth Lavenza would go to in order to survive. A dark and lovely midnight read.—MEGAN SHEPHERD, New York Times bestselling author of The Madman's Daughter trilogy
"In the hands of master storyteller Kiersten White, the bones of a familiar story are reconstructed to form an inventive, grotesque, and completely unexpected reimagining of Frankenstein. Mary Shelley would be proud."—MACKENZI LEE, New York Times bestselling author of The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue
|Publisher:||Random House Children's Books|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.20(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Im blown away by this novel. Its incredible. I thoroughly enjoyed what the author did here.
As 2018 marks the bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Kiersten White has written a new version of the original story. Elizabeth is the main character and the story unfolds through her eyes. Plucked from extreme poverty as a very young child to serve as companion to the Frankenstein’s eldest child, Elizabeth lives in constant fear of being kicked out and ending up back on the streets. She is so terrified of losing her position that she will do anything to ensure her own security, even if it means she is unable to be her true self and must constantly be on guard. Victor has a keen mind with a volatile temperament. It is only through the calming influence of Elizabeth that he learns to control it, and become more socially acceptable. I liked what the author did with the original story centering it around strong, intelligent female characters, and I like how she humanized Frankenstein’s monster. I was really drawn into this tale and was rooting for Elizabeth to make it. This well conceived re-telling has a thrilling plot and a slam-bang ending.
"Oh, I like you, Elizabeth Lavenza. I like you very much. I am a little bit afraid of you, but I think that makes me like you more." Three years ago I read the original Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and I was a little underwhelmed by it personally. What was missing in it for me was found in this book! The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is incredibly creepy yet heartwarming at times. Which was what was missing for me in the original. White makes it so you not only care about Elizabeth and several of the other side characters, but that you also care for Victor and what he had created by the end. How she does this I'm not sure, because it seemed like my opinions on certain characters was constantly changing depending on what chapter I was on. The characters are what drives this book along, and I've learned that that's what I love in books right now. Elizabeth who is our main character has such an interesting back story that we learn slowly throughout the book, and I loved her as a character. Is she terrifying at times, yes, yes she is and I absolutely loved that about her. She was willing to do what she had to in order to have a good life with the family that took her in even if it meant encouraging certain other things at times. Elizabeth not only makes up stories to satisfy others, but she also puts on a bit of a persona to be who Victor needs her to be in order to keep the peace between him and his parents. "Nothing surfaced from the black depths of the river. It kept its secrets. I would keep mine. And Victor's, too. " While this would be a good thing, it takes a darker turn with Victor and Elizabeth and thing's just keep escalating the other Victor gets. This puts Elizabeth in some uncomfortable and questionable positions that make her vulnerable to certain things that Victor is doing. "You begin existing the day we met. You are my Elizabeth, and that is all that matters." Victor truly worried me from the beginning, and I even wonder if he could be a sociopath at times because of how he acted. Having said that though, I also found myself being worried about him when Elizabeth was worried about him and hoping that he was okay. There was a bit of a weird possessiveness that he felt towards Elizabeth, that just kept getting more concerning the longer the book went on. Which added a whole new level of creepy, and excitement at the same time. ( I can't believe I just said that.) "She loved it because I told it just for her. It was not entirely the truth. But so little of what I told anyone ever was. I had ceased feeling guilty long ago. Words and stories were tools to elicit the desired reactions in others, and I was an expert craftswoman." Justine is a character who I wanted to protect at all costs, and I couldn't help constantly thinking that she should run from that house immediately and find a safer place to live. Yet I also knew she wasn't going to, she truly cared for Victor's younger siblings as if they were her own. I think that's part of what made me love her so much, also the fact that we see Elizabeth having a real friend it seems for the first time ever. Last but certainly not least we must have a 'Monster' or it wouldn't be Frankenstein. While I cared about the 'Monster' in the original, I cared about them even more in this book by the end and I wish we had gotten to see more of them. "I yearned for the freedom I anticipated.Freedom from the monster.Freedom from secrets.Freedom from the fear of having nothin
Absolutely excellent! Spooky and scary, a little bit gory. A great read whether you have read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or not. Do yourself a favor and read this book!!
First and foremost, it needs to be said that I would happily give this book 20 out of 5 stars if that was such a rating. This is one of those rare books that seemingly comes out of nowhere to land itself squarely on your Top 5 Reads of 2018 list, and which will be a favorite and often revisited read for many, many years to come. Kiersten White has produced a dazzling reimagining of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, completely and entirely stealing my bookworm heart in the process. In this newest version of the story, Elizabeth Lavenza is an orphan who has no hope in this world, until the Frankenstein's embrace her into their family, hoping she will be a friend for their oldest son Victor, a child whose dangerous temper and odd personality have left him entirely solitary. Elizabeth flourishes, and soon her only focus in life is being exactly what Victor needs her to be, regardless of what she must overlook to maintain that. Told in alternating time periods of the present, where Elizabeth is working to bring an adult Victor home to her, ensuring her safety within the Frankenstein family, and the years of their youth, growing up together and becoming inseparable friends, this is a book you literally cannot put down. I was torn between wanting to tear through the pages to see what would happen, and wanting to drag this story out forever, so that this magical, horrible world would never end. All of our favorite characters are here, and Kiersten does phenomenal work of making them all deeply interesting, complex and relatable. I was instantly drawn into this new perspective of Elizabeth being the central voice of the story, especially as her world slowly begins to fall apart at the hands of Victor's madness; a madness that she has worked so hard to protect him from and contain. Having a strong, willful and determined female voice lead this particular version was deeply satisfying, and unexpectedly breathed new life into a beloved story. This should WITHOUT QUESTION, be on your fall reads list this year - it will be the perfect book to usher in the Halloween season. As for me, this book now has a home on my permanent re-read list, and I already cannot wait to dive in again.
It’s ridiculous how well this one was well written. It should be a crime - like the many all of these characters commit. To be honest, I don't remember too much about the original novel. I remember Victor was the Frankenstein and not the monster and other little random scenes, but like, I didn't remember Elizabeth was even in the original??? And that she wasn't his sister??? Idk, I didn't remember things right, and I think if you just like the general concept of Frankenstein, you'll do just fine in this novel. Although I do recommend you either read the original or read the Spark Notes about the characters, because you can just admire/bask in the creativity and depth of detail that Kiersten White took to make her book authentic and pay homage to Mary Shelley's work. So, shall we go over all the ways that this book totally absolutely floored me? - The writing. Omg, it was so so so good. Like, it read like Mary Shelley's original novel. It felt like it has the professional quality of HF that you need, the creep and gore factor, the dark psychological depth to it that needed to get under your skin. It read wonderfully and was so easy to binge. Okay, yes, it got a little slow in parts and I felt the ending was a little too rushed, but otherwise, it was a slow burn that was so atmospheric. - The characters. Omigosh, they're all twisted piles of goo, and not many of them are really likeable likeable but they were BRILLIANT. They were twisted and dark and complex and dynamic and just so amazingly deep and WELL defined. Just imagine every synonym of good and that is how White wrote them. Elizabeth was such a fascinating narrator. Her identity, her motivations, her actions - they were all so well thought out and well articulated onto the page. She is definitely a stand out narrator, and possibly one of my favorites of 2018 even though I never really liked liked her. Victor - oh, Victor, I don't even know how to explainnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. Justine, Henry, Mary, and more were all so intriguing too. The characters were easily my favorite part. - The plot. The novel starts with Elizabeth and her friend, Justine, going on a mission to find Victor. Elizabeth has become Victor's friend/love/protector/keeper, and she hasn't heard from him for many months. She's desperate to find him, knowing he falls into dark descents and that needs him to secure her place in the Frankenstein household. And it takes off from there and gets twisty and turny and oh so good. It brings the creeps and spooks and perhaps even ties into the original story? The cons? Um, like none? As I said, I wasn't really a fan of the ending and how it was done. It wasn't bad, but it just felt kind of...eh, compared to the rest of the book. And I think that's what is keeping me from giving it a place on the favorites shelf. Overall: an absolute must read! It's creepy, spooky, and so atmospheric. It's well done in all the ways that are so importance. 5 crowns and a Tiana rating!
This is a gripping, heart pounding read! I finished this book in three days. The development of the characters were wonderful, and though there is a certain darkness blanketing the story, it only ever becomes more consuming. The plot contained twists and turns that kept me guessing. I definitely recommend this book to any fan of the original Frankenstein, as the author does it justice., as well as any fan of romance, and survival. This book definitely highlights the plights regarding the position of women in 18th century Europe, as well as abuse and all of its different forms. The ending of the novel surprised me, but always ties the story nicely. In short, do not hesitate to read this book! It will leave you satisfied.
I must confess...I've never read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein but, of course, have heard the story many times over. I am a fan of Kiersten White's And I Darken series so I couldn't pass up the chance to read her version of the story. I was a great story! Told from Elizabeth's viewpoint which gave more to her character than her counterpart in Shelley's version (naturally a female character wouldn't be centralize in her time). Despite knowing the original storyline, this story was intriguing and captivating. The ending was a fabulous twist from it's original.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher I was able to read this book in exchange for an honest review. *** This book was phenomenal. I was worried at first because the story starts out quite dull and very, very slow. I was wondering to myself if I’d made a mistake, and then things picked up and kept moving and moving and next thing I knew, it was 1 in the morning and I found myself staring stunned at this book. Wow, what a ride. I found myself whispering, ‘Oh no!’ And ‘What?’ multiple times as things started picking up and raced towards the end. Definitely recommend. The story is told by Elizabeth, who is Victor Frankenstein’s childhood companion, picked up by his family in an attempt to “tame” him. It worked well, or did it? Two years ago Victor left home and not sent word in quite awhile, and now Elizabeth has had enough. She has plans and she needs Victor to accomplish those plans. Thus starts our tale, and the dark descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein. Side note, I loved Elizabeth. She scared me at the beginning and she still scared me at the end of this story but for different reasons then when the story started. It’s not until about half way through her true motives start coming out and everything about her starts making more sense and becomes clearer. She makes sense to me now, more so than at the beginning but it doesn’t make her any less scary. I still don’t want to come across her in a dark alley. #TheDarkDescentOfElizabethFrankenstein #NetGalley
Full disclosure, I've never read Frankenstein. **GASP** I know, what kind of English major/librarian am I? That being said, if you were contemplating reading this book and wondered if maybe you needed to have read Frankenstein to appreciate it, I am happy to report that is not a prerequisite. Although come on guys, let's get real...we should read the original. Anyway, let's get to my thoughts on the book. It started off a little slow for me. It took me a few chapters to get into it, but once I did I was into it. Don't fret if you start reading and can't decide if this book is for you...it grows on you, I promise. The last quarter or so of the book was especially excellent--I gasped multiple times, and I think at one point I said, "oh, holy crap!" out loud, further convincing my husband that I am crazy. Oooh, it was excellent. Pro-tip? This book comes out just in time to make the perfect spooky October read...grab yourself a copy and enjoy!