Posted in book review

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein: Reviewed

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Genres/Descriptors: YA; retellings; historical fiction; horror; gothic; sci-fi (less so than the original, I think)

Pages: 304

Check it out on Goodreads


What’s it about?

Okay, I couldn’t do this justice, so here’s the description from Goodreads…

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.


Review:

I didn’t love Frankenstein, but I did enjoy it a lot. I picked this up on a whim, after finding the audiobook on OverDrive, and I could barely stop listening to it to go to bed. I still finished it within a 24-hour period, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

First of all, the narrator (Katharine McEwan) was great. I can be a little picky about narrators, but I thought she was a nice choice for this one. Her voice was just perfect, I feel, for the atmosphere.

I think you could read this without having read Frankenstein, but it will probably be a better experience if you have. *Also, this one needs some trigger warnings, so skip to the next paragraph if you think TWs are spoilers.* TW for: child abuse, animal cruelty, emotional and physical abuse, mutilation, murder.

I hate Victor Frankenstein. I’ve always hated him, and thought he was the true monster, no matter how brilliant his mind might have been. That’s one thing I think Penny Dreadful did really well, but he still ended up kind of redeemed by the end. I don’t want redemption for Victor Frankenstein, I want his monstrous inclinations exposed, without justification or letting him play at being a victim. This book delivered, by giving us the story from Elizabeth’s perspective.

Elizabeth has a home and relative safety in the Frankenstein household, but that stability depends on Victor and his desire to keep her around. She’s spent her life shaping herself into what Victor wants and needs, making herself indispensable to him, so she’s no longer quite certain how much of her is really her and how much is what she’s forced herself to be for him.

When she stops hearing from Victor, after he’s away at school, she gets worried and hatches a plan to track him down and bring him home. Along the way, she gets glimpses into what he’s been up to, and that really started to fill in some gaps and flesh out some bits from the original story. It was interesting, and deeply disturbing, following Elizabeth around as she begins to piece things together.

The first half or so of this one is a bit slow, but not boring. Getting to know Elizabeth, and how her mind worked, was slow in a good way, at least for me. She was a strong young woman, and a fantastic, sympathetic, morally grey character, capable of much more than her sweetly angelic visage might lead people to believe. Behind the curls and charming smiles was a sharp mind and a fierce determination to survive.

Her relationship with Victor was so… I can’t think of a word that works. It was disturbing and kind of terrifying. He was possessive and cruel, but had also convinced himself that he was acting out of something that at least resembled love in his twisted mind. It was realistic, and that was one of the scariest things about this story.

I loved the atmosphere of this book, and the writing. The entire thing had an unsettling vibe, the sense of danger just around the corner and fresh horrors to discover. (A+ for keeping the gothic vibe intact, and staying true enough to the original story, while still creating something new.) Even though this is a retelling, and I’ve read the source material, I honestly had no clue how this was going to wrap up. There was a constant sense of dread as I neared the end, fearing for Elizabeth, and anyone else unfortunate enough to cross Victor’s path.

I hope this doesn’t get spoilery, but I have to also take a moment to discuss the Creature. My heart has always hurt for him, and I think that’s why I loved him in Penny Dreadful. He was capable of such terrible things, but at his core, he was gentle and sweet. His character in this story almost made me tear up once or twice, for reasons I won’t go into because that would definitely have spoilers. Let me just say that I am so pleased with the way Kiersten White portrayed him.

This book is so hard to talk about without spoilers, because all I want to do is gush about the things I loved. I’m almost tempted to write a second post with spoilers, but I might be too lazy for that 😛

If you can handle this type of story, I highly recommend it. I’m strongly considering buying a copy, because this feels like a book I might re-read. This one is definitely going on my favorites shelf on goodreads.

I was torn between 4.5 and 5 stars, so I’m settling on 4.75 and rounding up to 5 stars.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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Posted in book tags/memes

Book Blogger Hop: October 5th-11th

This weekly hop is hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer, featuring a question about books each week. The purpose is to bring bookish bloggers together, basically. To participate, write a post about the question for that week and add your link.

The question this week is: It’s getting close to Halloween. If you HAD to read one of these two genres, which would you prefer — urban fantasy, or horror, and why? (submitted by Maria @ A Night’s Dream of Books)

Almost certainly horror, because my most read genre is probably fantasy, and I think I might read more urban fantasy than other subgenres.

I tend to save up horror books to binge read during October because I participate in some spooky themed reading challenges and read-a-thons.


Which genre would you choose?

Posted in Uncategorized

R.I.P. XIII: Update the Second

(Check out the R.I.P. 13 page here, and my sign up post here.)

I’ve officially completed Peril the First, whoo!

That doesn’t mean I’m stopping, because I have several spooky books lined up for October, and other spooky challenges to participate in (like FrightFall which I just posted about earlier). I’m just shocked that I A) actually finished four books that fit, and B) have done so before October even started haha.

In my first update, I’d read two books and was working on a third (I ended up DNF’ing The Library at Mount Char…maybe some other time).

Since then, I’ve also finished:

  • The Suffering by Rin Chupeco (the sequel to The Girl in the Well), and I loved it I think as much as the first book, maybe more. I might post a combo review soon, but I gave it 4.5/5 stars.
  • Kill Creek by Scott Thomas (reviewed here) which…I didn’t love. 2/5 stars.

For Peril of the Short Story I read:

  • Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts edited by Rayne Hall which I gave 1/5 stars :/
  • Then I re-read “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe which I gave 4.5/5 stars (it’s not my favorite Poe story, but I really enjoy it).
  • I think The Marble and Other Ghost Tales of Tennessee and VIrginia by Joe Tennis counts. It’s a super short book (70 pages) of ghost stories from a small region of TN and VA. I just read it this morning and gave it 3.5/5 stars.

For Peril on the Screen:

I watched Happy Death Day. I’ve wanted to see this movie since I first saw previews last year(?) and I was not disappointed. I don’t want to say much about it, but I honestly loved it. Probably enough to buy it if I ever find it cheap.

I give this one 4.5/5 stars for being so much fun to watch, and because if I hadn’t spoiled myself accidentally by searching for something while watching it, I honestly wouldn’t have seen the ending coming. I might have figured out the “who,” but not the “how.”

If you like movies like Scream, April Fool’s Day, Heathers, Final Destination, maybe Final Girl, Black Christmas (the original, I don’t think I’ve seen the remake), and–of course–Groundhog Day, you might want to check this one out if you haven’t already.


I think that’s it for my R.I.P. updating, but there will be more coming next month, probably.

Posted in book review

Book Review: Kill Creek by Scott Thomas


Genres/Descriptors:
Horror

Why I read it: I found it on Net Galley last year (eek) and it sounded great.

Who I’d recommend it to: Honestly? Very few people.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million | Book Depository | IndieBound

 


Goodreads Description:

At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, lies the Finch House. For years it has perched empty, abandoned, and overgrown–but soon the door will be opened for the first time in many decades. But something waits, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests. 
When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt soon becomes a fight for survival–the entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creek.


Review:

Meh. If I had to sum up my feelings about this book in a single word, it would be, “meh.” This was honestly one of the most disappointing reads I’ve had in a while.

I’ll start with the good, though.

This book was undoubtedly an homage to the big names of horror, probably both classic and modern. As someone who really likes horror, both on the page and on the screen, I could appreciate that.

At times, it was clear that Scott Thomas is capable of writing very well, and potentially delivering some scares, so I’m not writing him off just yet.

This book would probably make a great movie, and I’m thinking I would like the movie version more.

That’s pretty much all I actually liked about this book, and I feel weird about giving it such a low rating because it seems to be well-loved, in general.

The first 30% or so are seriously over-written. The remainder of the book is a little better, but I stand by what I said once (when I was only about halfway through it): it could probably lose 100 pages and nothing about the story would change. With horror, or any other spooky-ish book, I tend to call this “Stephen King Syndrome.” So if you like how wordy King can be, you probably won’t be bothered by that aspect. One additional note about it, though, is that some things were repeated way too often. Certain phrases, or recounting the same memory or whatever. Eventually, I just started skimming and skipping over pages.

Nothing really happens until close to the halfway point. Then, I finally had hope of reading a truly creepy story, but it lost steam really quickly. I don’t want to say much about what happened, so I don’t spoil anything for someone planning to read this, but there was a shift in the type of horror around 70% and I just rolled my eyes and thought, “Of course.” I’d seen it coming, but had hoped it wasn’t going to go there.

Two things frustrated me most about this book.

The first was the one (main) female character. At first, I thought I was going to like her. And eventually I did, but less in a, “Wow, this guy wrote a decent female character, hurrah!” kind of way, and more in the way that I wish I could take her away from him and give her to a woman author. The creepiest thing about this book was how T.C. Moore was written at times, and if she could come to life and speak for herself, I’m guessing she would verbally rip Thomas a new one. Or maybe even literally do it. I get it. She’s a tough, badass bitch, in a field dominated by men. I. GET. IT. I have no issues with unlikable female characters (I want more of them!). I have no issues with crass female characters. But Moore was just so over the top she became unbelievable, which is really disappointing because if Thomas had just dialed it back a bit (and maybe not mentioned her breasts and underwear and how she has a “pagan ritual”–which I have other issues with–of writing naked) it would have been much better to read about her.

The second thing was the lack of explanation. I still have no clue what caused the things that happened in the book. We’re given some vague ideas, but nothing is really settled and actually explained. I guess that’s supposed to make it creepier, but it just irritates me. And then there were the vines. I won’t elaborate on that part.

None of the characters really stood out to me. It’s like they should have had more depth, but just didn’t. I honestly can barely even remember their names already, even though (as I’m typing this) I just finished the book a half hour ago. I think the idea for them was to make them almost like archetypes of big-name horror authors, without actually making them into those authors. But that didn’t quite work for me, in the end, and so I never really cared about any of them. I just wanted the book to end so I could move on.

I feel like this book should have been a better experience for me, but I spent almost all of it bored and/or skimming over all the repetitive bits so I could finally finish it. wanted to like it, but it was just…fine. Not really good, not horrible, just fine. I saw the ending coming from pretty much the beginning, and it was also just fine. Nothing new or surprising there.

Would I recommend it? Not really. But, if you love Stephen King, maybe Dean Koontz, and others like them, you might like this more than I did.

 

I received a free copy for review from Net Galley
Posted in book tags/memes

Top 10 Tuesday: Fall 2018 TBR

This is a weekly meme that was created by The Broke and the Bookish, and is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader GirlEvery week, there’s a theme and you choose ten books that fit it. Check out upcoming topics here.


Wow, it’s been like 3 months since I did a T10T :/

This week’s topic is books on our fall TBR. I don’t make TBRs. I never stick to them, and they just end up frustrating me and making me feel bad, so I don’t bother. However, I do usually have books in mind that I’d like to read within a certain time period. I might not actually do it, but I try.

So, these are 10 things I’d like to try to get to this season, in no particular order.


Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson– This one sounds perfect for next month, probably between heavier/longer books to lighten things up a bit.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco– This has been on my shelf an embarrassingly long time :/

Vicious by V.E. Schwab– Another one I should have read ages ago, but I’m only saving it until Vengeful comes out next week, so I’ll hopefully be reading both of them soon.

Asylum by Madeleine Roux– This one is actually my husband’s, but he forgot about it, so…finders keepers?

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury– I finally own it! I’m excited for this one because I remember loving the movie when I was a kid.

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty– I have no excuse for why I still have not read this *sigh*

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix– I’ve wanted to read this one since it came out, and now I have it! I’m excited because it sounds like something I’ll really enjoy.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier– I’ve wanted to read this for almost as long as I can remember, so maybe I’ll finally get around to it.

The Suffering by Rin Chupeco– I just realized I have two of her books on this list, but I just read The Girl From the Well and really liked it, so I’m hoping to grab this sequel ASAP.

For my tenth, I’m cheating. Cheating how? By not listing anything specific. My tenth spot is for short stories, mostly of the Victorian and Gothic varieties. I just don’t have any one thing in mind, so… however many short stories I can squeeze in over the next couple of months. Possibly some Gaskell, La Fanu, Poe, Blackwood, etc.


I’m not feeling very well today, so I’m not going in search of covers or trying to take any pictures to add to this. Sorry :/

 

What are some books you’d like to get to this autumn?

Have any spooky book recs you’d like to pass on?