He felt that Elizabeth Bennet was like a lightning bolt to his heart. It was uncertain whether she would enliven him or kill him outright, but the wisest course of action would be to fashion an emotional lightning rod.
(from Frankenstein Darcy)
Cass Grix’s latest novel, Frankenstein Darcy, is a paranormal retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that includes elements from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In Grix’s version of events, Elizabeth and Jane Bennet meet Frankenstein Fitzwilliam Darcy when they are young girls. While touring Pemberley with their aunt and uncle, they help save the life of the young Mr. Darcy when he is shot right before their eyes. Several years later, Mr. Darcy appears at the Meryton Assembly and is rude when Elizabeth — happy to make his acquaintance once again — approaches him.
Mr. Darcy’s late father was an amateur physician who experimented on animals in his lab at Pemberley — and rumor has it, those experiments later involved human corpses. Elizabeth isn’t sure what to believe since Mr. Darcy, now a trained physician himself, takes such good care of Jane, who falls ill at Netherfield, and herself when she is injured while traveling there to be with her sister. However, it isn’t until after their meeting at Rosings and her rejection of Darcy’s proposal of marriage that Elizabeth begins to realize that whatever he might lack in bedside manner, he isn’t the horrible man Mr. Wickham claims he is. But will she ever accept Darcy after learning the painful secrets he has uncovered about his past?
In Frankenstein Darcy, Grix does a great job adding some dark and dangerous elements to Austen’s story without making the novel too violent or gruesome. I especially enjoyed how Wickham and Lydia’s story played out in this variation, and Darcy’s assistant, Greenwood, was an interesting addition to the cast of characters. However, there was a portion of the book that was a bit slow for me, mainly because Grix closely follows the events of the original novel, and from the Netherfield Ball until Elizabeth reads Darcy’s letter, not a whole lot was changed. But as soon as the Frankenstein-esque aspect of the story returned, the pace picked up, and I found it to be an exciting tale. Although I didn’t feel the emotional connection between Elizabeth and Darcy in this variation, Grix does make the paranormal elements believable in the context of the story.
Frankenstein Darcy is a delightfully unique take on Pride and Prejudice and a perfect read for this time of year. I never would have thought such a mash-up would work, but it does, and the unexpected twists and turns are thoroughly enjoyable. I would definitely read it again for Halloween in the future, and I can’t wait to read more from Grix!
Disclosure: I received Frankenstein Darcy from the author for review.