Unnatural Creatures: A Novel of the Frankenstein Women by Kris Waldherr was the PERFECT October read. I haven’t read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley since high school (over 10 years ago!) so I went into this book pretty much blind. I remember the basic premise of Frankenstein but not much else. I’m actually glad I went into this book with very little knowledge, though, because I was able to be surprised by every horrible event. This review will be spoiler free.
For the first time, the untold story of the three women closest to Victor Frankenstein is brought to life in a dark and sweeping reimagining of Frankenstein by the author of The Lost History of Dreams.
Caroline Frankenstein will do anything to protect her family against the nightmarish revolutions engulfing 18th-century Europe. In doing so, she creates her own monster in the form of her scientist son, Victor, whose obsession with conquering death leads to forbidden realms.
Rescued by Caroline as a four-year-old beggar, angelic Elizabeth Lavenza understands the only way she can repay the Frankensteins is by accepting Victor’s hand in marriage. But when Elizabeth’s heart yearns for someone else, the lives of those she most loves collide with the unnatural creature born of Victor’s profane experiments.
After an abusive childhood, otherworldly Justine Moreau is taken in by Caroline to serve the Frankensteins. Justine’s devotion to Caroline and Elizabeth knows no bounds … until a family tragedy changes her irrevocably. Her fate sets her against Victor’s monster, who is desperate for a mate—and desperate to wreak revenge against the Frankensteins.
- Rating- ⭐⭐⭐⭐
If books with happy characters and happy endings are your thing, this isn’t the one for you. This is a Gothic story to its core. There is a dash of romance and some lighter moments but for the most part, it’s just these characters suffering.
I really enjoyed all the characters but I especially liked Caroline, Victor’s mother, and Justine, the family servant. Elizabeth, Victor’s betrothed, was also a well written character but not always the most interesting. I found Caroline and Justine to have the most depth. However, the only reason I didn’t give this book five stars is because I was never able to form a strong connection with any of the characters. They’re well written but you only get to know them on a surface level; with a bit more depth added as the story goes on.
This book stands out because it explores the classic Frankenstein story from the feminine side of things. We see the events unfold from the eyes of Victor’s beloved mother, his perfect fiancée, and his unfortunate maid. All three women deal with the tragic events in their lives, often in silence and behind the scenes, to protect the men they love.
If you’re looking for an atmospheric Gothic read, I highly recommend this one. Even if you’re not a fan of the original Frankenstein story, this one would still be worth checking out. I’d love to know what you’re reading for spooky season! Thanks for reading and have a great day!