Frankenstein Retellings to Curl up With and Celebrate Mary Shelley’s 222nd Birthday!

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

Inside cover for Frankenstein in 1831
Inside cover of 1831 publication, Vvia WikiCommons

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

Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein coverElizabeth 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.

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2. This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1) by Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavor coverBravery, danger, and intense passion. How does obsession begin?

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.

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3. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

This Monstrous Thing coverIn 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits.

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…

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4. Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin

Spare and Found Parts coverNell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?

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.

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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!

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

19 Comments

  1. Tammy

    August 30, 2019 at 6:02 AM

    Lovely post, Kal😁 I’ve read This Monstrous Thing and loved it, and I have a copy of The Dark Descent, which I hope to read eventually.

    1. Kal

      September 8, 2019 at 2:35 PM

      Thank you Tammy, and I am REALLY WANTING to read This Monstrous Thing during spooky season. Even ore now that you loved it!

  2. Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts

    August 30, 2019 at 7:17 AM

    I LOVE Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” … such a well-done novel. I read it in high school and just fell for Shelley’s impeccable writing style. I haven’t read too many retelling’s since I get frustrated with the lack of accuracy in the film versions (i.e. Frankenstein is NOT the monsters name, for one lol). But I might check some of these out.

    Lovely post!

    1. Kal

      September 8, 2019 at 2:37 PM

      Oh man, I HEAR YOU on the horrible accuracy of the film adaptations!!! I steer clear from most films for this… it’s as if the screenwriters never read the book. Or at least the Spark Notes for the book. I loved Frankenstein though, Mary Shelley was so talented!

  3. Beck @ SMELLFOY CAN READ

    August 30, 2019 at 8:39 AM

    I need ALL OF THESE! I’m super excited to read the OG for school this year (we’re reading it in october- perfect spook) and ahhgvftybnyjkmnbvcsxwteeruiomiukjgbvbtrfcbnymiklikoiuytvfrtgtnyuoikygtvg sv. I’m going to put ALL of these on hold at the library ASAP

    1. Kal

      September 8, 2019 at 2:38 PM

      Kudos to your teacher for assigning Frankenstein in October, perfect time of the year!!! I hope you enjoy it and these retellings, thanks for reading!

  4. theorangutanlibrarian

    August 30, 2019 at 10:15 AM

    Ooh what a cool post to do!! I love Frankenstein 😀 And I’d only heard of dark descent before- which sounds very cool- so really curious about all the others now as well!

    1. Kal

      September 8, 2019 at 2:39 PM

      Thank you so much, and I love Frankenstein too! I am hoping to read This Monstrous Thing in October

  5. TheCaffeinatedReader

    August 31, 2019 at 11:09 AM

    Now I want to read all of these, I so enjoyed Frankenstein and I really want to read more by Shelley but be still my beating heart, I need all of these <3

    1. Kal

      September 8, 2019 at 2:46 PM

      You’re welcome, and I am glad my assault on your TBR continues.

  6. Macey @ Brine and Books

    August 31, 2019 at 1:52 PM

    I have yet to read Frankenstein, I know how terrible, especially as I’m a self-proclaimed fan of classic lit :/ I’m excited to refer back to this post after I have read it and want to delve into a retelling!

    1. Kal

      September 8, 2019 at 2:54 PM

      Not terrible at all, there are so many Classics to read! I hope you do enjoy the book when you read it and want to dive into a retelling or two after!

  7. August Wrap Up & September TBR (2019) // I’m home! – THE LITERARY HUNTRESS

    September 1, 2019 at 7:36 AM

    […] @ Reader Voracious celebrates Mary Shelley’s birthday by recommending 4 fantastic Frankenstein retellings you should […]

  8. northernplunder

    September 1, 2019 at 12:34 PM

    i literally ONLY came here to check you’d included the queen of my heart – SMG <3 thank you for introducing her to more readers

    1. Kal

      September 8, 2019 at 4:05 PM

      Glad I didn’t disappoint you, and I’m even more excited to read that one now!

  9. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall

    September 2, 2019 at 9:54 PM

    Great post, Kal! Okay, I have a confession to make … *inhales deeply* … Frankenstein is one of my least favorite novels in the world. (Please don’t kill me lol) It’s actually the first book I ever wrote a review for, so I do owe a huge sense of gratitude towards it. Even though it wasn’t my cup of tea, I really do appreciate all the themes brought up in the novel, and I’m impressed that Mary Shelley wrote the novel at such a young age. I like the IDEA of the story, so that’s why I’m always interested in retellings. Haha. I’ve been wanting to read This Monstrous Thing for some time now, and was actually hoping to read it this year, before Halloween! 🙂

    1. Kal

      September 8, 2019 at 4:47 PM

      No shame at all, and honestly I am in awe that you have the courage to share your No thank you with such an iconic book, because it is HARD. I hope the retelling is more your cup of tea when you read it, love!

  10. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

    September 11, 2019 at 8:42 AM

    These are fascinating Kal!! I wondered why you didn’t write about each one and then I saw that they are on your own TBR. I will admit that I must have went to backwards schools because I never read Frankenstein in school. My friend told me all about it and I’ve had ambition to read it but I’m not sure if I’m even interested. Though I love the sound of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White. That sounds like a fascinating relationship. Which books were the ones you wanted to read still? ❤️

    1. Kal

      September 11, 2019 at 1:36 PM

      Yea I haven’t read any of these yet THE SHAME! I own Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet, but hopefully this fall I will read a couple of these! My high school didn’t have Frankenstein on the curriculum either; I didn’t read it until an English course in uni. I definitely want to read Spare and Found Parts because Lauren loves it so much!

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