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Literature / The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

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"I sought to puncture Heaven and instead discovered Hell."

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a young adult novel written by Kiersten White. It is a retelling of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, told in the point of view of Elizabeth Lavenza, who is much more manipulative and calculating than she was in the original novel.

Elizabeth Lavenza was a mistreated orphan, until one day she is brought to the Frankenstein family, where she meets Victor, a solitary, strange young boy who has no friends. Using her charms, they quickly become inseparable, especially as she is the only one to be able to handle his moods and temper. But once they get older, Victor leaves for school and seemingly vanishes. With her place in the home at risk, Elizabeth takes her friend Justine and begins to search for him. But during her search she begins to uncover secrets, and once she finds him, the darkness of her life only increases. Not only does she find out about her experiments, but murders begin to happen with alarming speed because of them. She also discovers how far Victor is willing to go for them...and that obsession and insanity may very well consume them both.


The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein contains:

  • Adaptation Expansion: This shows Elizabeth’s backstory, including parts of her life before she met the Frankensteins, how she met Justine, and scenes of her childhood with Victor, Henry, and Justine.

  • Adaptational Heroism: The Monster, or Adam.

  • Adaptational Intelligence: In the original Frankenstein, Elizabeth is portrayed as a sweet, kind woman who is devoted to Victor. Here, she’s a calculating woman who knows how to play people very well, and who has made her personality and appearance tailor made for Victor to ensure her safety and comfort.

  • Adaptational Jerkass: Elizabeth is a far cry from the sweet, gentle woman in the original book.

  • Adaptational Villainy: Victor is revealed to be a sociopathic murderer obsessed with keeping Elizabeth as his own.

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  • Artificial Human: The Monster, Adam naturally.

  • Bedlam House: Elizabeth wakes up to find herself incarcerated in an asylum because of Victor's machinations.

  • Body Horror: How everyone describes The Monster looking like.

  • Bookworm: Elizabeth mentions her love of books every now and then.

  • Brain Fever: Victor is in the middle of one when Elizabeth finds him.

  • Broken Bird: Justine after having survived seventeen years of her mother's abuse. She's broken even more when she is accused of William's murder.

  • Childhood Friend Romance: A dark deconstruction. Elizabeth perfects herself to become Victor’s ideal person, and Victor’s love for her is more akin to obsession. It's also what Henry hoped for with Elizabeth, but he didn't succeed.

  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Hoo boy, Victor. As a child he didn’t want to be separated from Elizabeth even for school, and he didn’t react well to Henry kissing her. As an adult, he’s much worse, orchestrating Justine’s death not only for his experiments, but because he was jealous of Elizabeth's love for her.

  • Death of a Child: Like in the original book, William, a little boy going missing and found not only dead, but murdered.

  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: It goes with the time period. Elizabeth actually takes advantage of everyone's low expectations of her more than once. There's also her upbringing, plus her marrying a boy she’s basically been raised with. It's portrayed as a bad time for women, which it was.

  • Despair Event Horizon: Elizabeth nearly crosses it when Justine dies.

  • Destructive Romance: Although Elizabeth's feelings are fairly ambiguous (although it is implied that she at least harbors some degree of genuine affection towards him) this is her and Victor's relationship. You can't get anything healthy from one person who is using the other in order to survive, and the other who has become utterly dependent and obsessed with the other person. That's not even getting in Victor's jealousy and all the murder...and his experiments that result from his feelings for her.

  • Entitled to Have You: Victor has this mindset with Elizabeth, constantly telling her that she's his.

  • Frankenstein's Monster: It is a retelling of the original tale after all.

  • Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who’s read the original knows that William and Justine die. However, it's subverted with Elizabeth’s fate.

  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Subverted with Elizabeth. She's blonde, and plays a sweet nature to win people's good graces.

  • Human Resources: How Victor views the people around him.

  • Kill the Cutie: Poor, poor William and Justine.

  • Lonely Funeral: Elizabeth gives Justine a (somewhat) decent burial with flowers marking her grave, not wanting her friend's body to be used by Victor.

  • Love Makes You Crazy/ Love Makes You Evil: Victor again. He began his experiments in triumphing over death after almost losing Elizabeth to illness. Plus, he frames Justine for William's murder because of her friendship with Elizabeth, and mutilated Henry and left him to die after finding out he had feelings for her as well.

  • Missing Mom: Madame Frankenstein is this to her children after she dies of a fever.

  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Basically what Victor did by framing Justine for William's murder, simply by being so close to Elizabeth. He also mutilates Henry and leaves him to die after he confessed to having feelings for Elizabeth.

  • Mysterious Protector: It turns out that The Monster was trying to protect Elizabeth from Victor, partly because of pieces of Henry's memory of her.

  • Not Blood Siblings: Elizabeth and Victor were raised together, but were always planned to be married eventually.

  • Patricide: Victor murdered his own father.

  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Ever since William and Justine's deaths, Elizabeth believes she is in serious danger because of a murderer or monster. However, it isn't until her wedding night that she comes to discover Victor is the real threat.

  • Sibling Murder: Victor killed his own younger brother, William, as part of his plan to get rid of Justine.

  • Sinister Suffocation: The method Victor used to strangle William, and later on strangle his own father.

  • Shout-Out: Mary Delgado is clearly named after Mary Shelley.

  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Averted with both Elizabeth and Victor. Elizabeth has always been calculating and deceptive, even comparing herself to a sour strawberry. Victor was always a bit strange and had a strong temper, and it's later revealed that he killed his brothers' governess after Elizabeth saved Justine by offering her a job as a governess, forgetting there already was one.

  • Yandere: If you haven't guessed already, Victor has a deep obsession with Elizabeth and is willing to do anything to keep her as his, even frame and indirectly kill her closest friend. This line basically says it all:
    Victor: "You are mine. I will never stop. I will follow you to the ends of the earth. And then you will know my power, and you will worship me as your creator, and we will be happy together."