Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
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.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
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 apartment-experiments 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 family-selected to be Victor's companion and friend-while 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 © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book Review
What if Victor Frankensteins beloved Elizabeth were not the angelic, guileless helpmate of Mary Shelleys Frankenstein but a master manipulator, her every move calculated to maintain her precarious position in the (here dysfunctional) Frankenstein household? What if Victor were not the benign inventor who came to regret the creation of his monster but instead a dangerous psychopath? In Whites novel, Victor considers Elizabeth his property, and his obsession with the re-animation of body parts is in service to his ultimate goal of keeping Elizabeth and himself alive forever. And what if Victors creation were no bitter monster bent on revenge but a kind and gentle being? (Or beingsthe monsters identity is one of this novels most brilliant conceits.) With Elizabeth as narrator and true protagonist, this electrifying re-visioning (re-animation?) of the classic horror tale explores themes such as power and powerlessness, freedom and captivity, feminism, friendship, and the nature of self. White here somehow reinvents Shelleys story into something wholly new and original but alsoeven with all the role reversals and identity twistssticks closely to Shelleys plot. She even manages a redemptive endingthough this time it is for Elizabeth, not Victor. The prose is crisp and clean but with a definite Gothic flavor, recalling but not mimicking Shelleys style. This novel indeed descends to dark and hellish depths, but captivated readers will avidly plumb them in the company of the complicated and compelling Elizabeth Frankenstein. martha v. parravano January/February 2019 p 107(c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
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) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.