What if Victor Frankenstein was a child narcissistic sociopath? What if his parents, after an unfortunate and hushed up incident, decided to buy him a girl companion who could teach him to pretend to smile, smooth his sudden rages, and watch over him so he didn’t hurt his other brothers?
We meet Elizabeth in this story just as she is traveling away from the Frankenstein estate with her companion and nanny to the younger boys, Justine, to find Victor. He, and the other in their little trio of childhood friends, Henry, have moved away from their little village near Lake Como and left Elizabeth behind.
She’s terrified Victor’s father will no longer have a use for her now that Victor’s gone. She’s molded herself into the perfect companion and kept Victor’s family safe all these years and literally can think of no other future for herself without Victor.
But when she finds Victor, it’s in a charnel house full of strange chemicals and inexplicable horrors. How far will Elizabeth go to secure her future? How far will Victor go to ensure the girl who has made herself the one living thing he cares for will stay by his side forever?
This is a pleasingly dark and angsty portrayal of the familiar Dr. Frankenstein/monster story told from Elizabeth’s POV. She is vulnerable, in the way children and women were of her time, and the ways she ensures her survival are painful to watch at times. The reveal of Victor’s particular proclivities, and the unraveling of the fantasy Elizabeth has woven around herself goes a bit slow at times. Elizabeth’s agency and ability to just jaunt around the country with carriages and servants and whatnot is never really explained, but White’s writing is pleasingly atmospheric so most of the time I didn’t care.
A book that definitely makes Victor Frankenstein into the monster.