The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Book Info

Grade Level
High School
STEM Concepts
Biology, Human Health and Anatomy, Ethics, History of Medicine, Electricity and Circuits, Biomedical Engineering

Elizabeth 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.

Source: Penguin Random House


The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein: The STEM Read Experience!

The STEM Read field trip brought fresh life to Frankenstein (Mary Shelley) and provided a unique, STEM filled, and fun experience based around the Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White. From solving puzzles to building circuits, students raced to find Victor--and then had to decide whether to support him or turn him in. Music: Toccata et Fuga in D Minor (Johan Sebastian Bach) Synth Remix by Galbatron

Writing Tips with Kiersten White

Want to be a writer? Author Kiersten White divulges some hot tips for writers of all ages. Music: Toccata et Fuga in D Minor (Johan Sebastian Bach) Synth Remix by Galbatron

The Power of Writing with Kiersten White

Author Kiersten White shares why writing (and reading) are so important. Music: Toccata et Fuga in D Minor (Johan Sebastian Bach) Synth Remix by Galbatron


Idea Sparks and Mini Lessons

These questions, prompts, and short activities provide quick ways to inspire interest and explore the STEAM concepts related to the book. Idea Sparks and Mini lessons can also be used for differentiation and to foster new ideas of your own.

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Collaborative Automata

Victor Frankenstein used body parts gathered randomly in order to piece together a creature closely resembling a human. He was able to give it “the spark of life” and behold, his creature stirred to life. Each of the body parts needed to perform the function they were originally designed for and work together in order for the creature to move, walk, and talk. Dr. Frankenstein needed to have a deep understanding of anatomy for this to happen.

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Ethical and Moral Issues in Frankenstein

Many studies have been conducted over the years on the psychology behind Victor Frankenstein. Many believe he was a pathological narcissist, while others believe he had multiple personality disorder brought on by underlying mental illness and years of isolation. In this theory, Victor was in fact the monster. Either way, the experiments he conducted pushed the boundaries of ethical and moral norms. In this PBL, students will research a variety of medical issues and the ethics behind them. They will choose a final product in which to report their findings and present it to the class.

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Body Art Gallery

Much of Victor Frankenstein’s time was taken up collecting and studying body parts. He needed to understand exactly how each part functioned within the body. He had to visualize how the various parts became a whole.  Victor would have been thrilled to see Bodies: The Exhibition ( that toured museums several years ago. The exhibit displayed the inner workings of the body in an accurate, informative, and artistic manner. With this multi-part, interdisciplinary lesson incorporates anatomy, engineering, ELA, and art. Students create working models of various body organs and functions. These are then turned into works of art and arranged in a collaboratively developed exhibition. An artist statement is included in the exhibition, explaining artistic and engineering choices.

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Check out our list of recommended reading for fans of Frankenstein.

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About the Author

Photo of Kiersten WhiteKiersten White

Kiersten White is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, the And I Darken series, comprised of And I Darken, Now I Rise, and Bright We Burn; the Paranormalcy series; Slayer, and many more novels. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, which, in spite of its perfection, spurs her to dream of faraway places and even further-away times.

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Source: Penguin Random House