Today is Mary Shelley’s 222nd birthday and what better way to celebrate than with a list of Frankenstein retellings to add to your TBR?
About the Book
Original Publisher: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones | Release Date: January 1, 1818 | Genre: Science fiction, Gothic thriller
Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.
Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever.
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The Enduring Relevance of Frankenstein
Frankenstein retellings and reimaginings abound in both books and film, and for good reason. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has left an indelible mark on both literature and film surpassing hundreds of years. Originally published as The Modern Prometheus in 1818, the short novel itself is a retelling of the Greek god Prometheus, who created man out of clay, was made modern by Shelley by the creation of life with the application and technological innovation of science rather than via reproduction.
It is no coincidence that Shelley took inspiration from the Greek gods. The new Prometheus, or the age of creation, came from science instead of religion. Which mirrors the scientific revolution happening in the West.
Four Frankenstein Retellings
1. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
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.
2. This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1) by Kenneth Oppel
Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures…until the day their adventures turn all too real.
They stumble upon the Dark Library and discover secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies. Father forbids them from ever entering the room again, but when Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is drawn back to the Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Victor, along with his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and friend Henry, immediately set out to find a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help them create the formula.
Determined to save Konrad, the three friends scale the highest trees in Strumwald, dive into the deepest lakes, and even make an unthinkable sacrifice in their quest for the elixir’s ingredients. And as if their task was not complicated enough, a new realm of danger—that of illicit love—threatens to end the ordeal in tragedy.
3. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.
But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship.
Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…
4. Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin
Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.
Have you read any of these Frankenstein retellings? Two of these have been on my owned TBR for quite some time. Are there any other retellings that I missed? Let’s chat in the comments!