Description (from publisher’s website):
When Victor Frankenstein died, he left behind a legacy of horror and two unacknowledged daughters. Now the girls are seventeen and have come to Frankenstein’s castle to claim their inheritance. Giselle and Ingrid are twins, but very different. Giselle dreams of lavish parties while Ingrid is drawn to the mysterious notebooks her father left behind. Nobody’s safe as Frankenstein’s legacy leads to a macabre journey of romance and horror!
Even though I was an English major and a fan of horror, I hated Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I found the monster to be whiny, and the endless philosophical debates dull. It just wasn’t for me. So, I was taking a risk in reading Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters, but figured it would be different because it’s a modern young adult novel. I should have stuck with my gut and stayed away from this book.
Frankenstein is a fairly straightforward, taut story of a scientist working at the time when Galvani was first discovering that electricity was a part of the nervous system, and that an electric charge could make a dead body move. Take that one step further, and Frankenstein used the early technology of electricity to create life and animate dead tissue. Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters presents us with two fictional twin daughters of Frankenstein, spirited away at their birth (and their mother’s death) in order to hide them from Frankenstein’s monster. Now, they have learned of their heritage, have become baronesses of a Scottish castle, and are curious about their father.
The daughters are a bit stereotypical: there’s the plain brainy one, Ingrid, who hopes to follow in her father’s scientific footsteps, and the beautiful but vain one, Giselle, who dreams of dressing up the castle for grand parties. The plot is a bit meandering, and not totally worth summing up. Ingrid falls in love with an invalid and wants to use electrotherapeutics to save him, and Giselle rebuffs a suitor who wants her money. Some other stuff happens, like murders on the island, but the plot loses focus, and thus so did I.
What really got me about this book, though, were the historical inaccuracies that Weyn presents. In her ending author’s note, she thanks her editor for catching the anachronistic words in the text. I wish her editor had taken it further and taken out the anachronistic ideas. For example, the story takes place in 1815, and gives a mistaken account of the meaning of mesmerism. At one point, Ingrid receives a book from the mid-1600s, and it is described as yellowing and crumbling, which is wrong for this particular book from that period. It assumes pages made of wood pulp rather than linen. I know I’m supposed to suspend disbelief, but more research was clearly needed in this attempt at historical fiction.
I found the ending to be a frustrating copout, and just felt unsatisfied with the story as a whole. There was quite a bit of inner eye-rolling going on. I think I might be coming at this as an overcritical person because of my own knowledge of the history of the period, but I can’t help but be disappointed when false information is presented as true in historical fiction. Funny enough, though, I still found this book to be a more fun read than Frankenstein.