2013 · 4 stars · ya

Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters by Suzanne Weyn

dfd Title: Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters
Author: Suzanne Weyn (twitterwebsite)
Pub. Date: January 1, 2013
Source: Publisher (Thank you Scholastic!!)
Summary: A new generation is creating a monster….

When Doctor Victor Frankenstein died, he left behind a legacy of horror…as well as two unacknowledged, beautiful twin daughters. Now these girls are seventeen, and they’ve come to Frankenstein’s castle to claim it as their inheritance.

Giselle and Ingrid are twins, but they couldn’t be more different. Giselle is a glamorous social climber who plans on turning Frankenstein’s castle into a center of high society. Ingrid, meanwhile, is quiet and studious, drawn to the mysterious notebooks her father left behind…and the experiments he went mad trying to perfect.

As Giselle prepares for lavish parties and Ingrid finds herself falling for the sullen, wounded naval officer next door, a sinister force begins to take hold in the castle. Nobody’s safe as Frankenstein’s legacy leads to a twisted, macabre journey of romance and horror.
Genre: YA, Gothic
Rating:

When one is a twin, it is more than merely having a sibling. Other sisters might be affectionate but they can never know the feeling of being one with another human that twins enjoy.

Time and time again I’ve gone on at length about my love of retellings. While Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters isn’t technically a retelling, it does expand upon the original work and I couldn’t wait to jump right in.

Giselle and Ingrid are 17-year old twins and have grown up not knowing either parent: their mother died in childbirth and their father seemingly abandoned them not long after. Upon learning of a rather large inheritance (complete with castle and Baroness titles!), the girls pack their things and head to the Orkney Islands on the northern coast of Scotland. While there they set about turning the dreary, ancient fortress into a home and discover secrets about their family.

Seventeen years have passed since my father attempted his first experiment. Tremendous strides have been made in science. With his notes and drawings to guide me, I can take his work further than he ever dreamed.

Told through diary entries and a dual narrative, Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters was a quick read perfectly suited for a gloomy rainy afternoon. I easily worked my way through the all-too-short novel, only pausing to refill my tea mug. Ingrid Von Frankenstein was the twin I felt more of a connection with: she was quiet and more interested in reading and learning about anatomy than frequent lavish parties. In the guise of a boy, Ingrid attended lectures at the medical university with her friend and I would have loved to hear about them in greater detail. Perhaps it’s my fascination with the macabre, but her brief descriptions of classes devoted entirely to intestines and organs made my 9th grade Biology class dissections pale in comparison. Shortly after arriving at the castle Ingrid discovered her father’s old journals and pored over them with fervor, combing through his meticulously drawn anatomical diagrams and painstaking process of creating life.

Giselle on the other hand was far more qualified for life as a young socialite. Even with her frail composition, Giselle practically threw herself into decorating the castle, having dresses custom-designed, and planning a grand party complete with a Who’s Who guest list. Giselle didn’t understand why her sister took to their father’s dingy old laboratory, nor why Ingrid spent all her time fawning over Walter Hammersmith, the young lieutenant who was horribly wounded in battle and now lives in a tiny cottage in the village. She’s haughty and shallow and felt her sister too good for a mere commoner, even though Giselle herself had been in love with a local boy, only to have him reject her.

Surprisingly, for a novel about Victor Frankenstein’s daughters, there was very little monster talk. While I was terribly letdown by the lack of monsters in A. E. Rought’s Broken, I must admit I enjoyed the quiet nature of Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters. It had a gloomy feel that perfectly captured the setting and period, but it also felt very sleepy and I enjoyed that quite a bit. Throughout the novel – and in the wonderful prologue told through one of Victor’s diary entries – there were mentions and brief glimpses and the monster and his attacks, but it wasn’t until the end that things really got rolling.

I wonder if scholars in general are really the best people to have at a party – who really understands what they’re talking about? – but there are enough of them that they can talk amongst themselves.

Another thing I liked was the name-dropping. Multiple celebrities of the day, including Percy Bysshe Shelley & Mary (!), were in attendance at Giselle’s bash and I thought those scenes were wonderful!

While reading Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my Scholastic roots. The writing style was fantastic and really hit home for me. This is definitely a novel I could picture myself picking up at a Book Fair back in elementary school.

When all is said and done, Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters is a lovely novel that brings to mind the late 90s in such a good way. I’m positive my 10-year old self would have enjoyed this novel just as much as (if not more than!) the 24-year old me.

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3 thoughts on “Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters by Suzanne Weyn

  1. Brilliant review! I’ve been curious about this book!

    I suppose the dual narrative makes sense, though I wasn’t expecting the diary entries. It sounds like a nice touch, however. Plus I like the thought of an Orkney island setting.

    I’ll have to make sure I add this book to my wishlist now. :)

    1. :) Thank you!

      To be honest, I’m not a big fan of epistolary fiction, so when I realized this was told solely through diary entries, I was a bit worried. Turns out my worries were for nothing!

      If you get a chance to read it, I hope you’ll enjoy it!

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