The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein
Peter Ackroyd’s fiction has a strong historical rooting, particularly in novels like Hawksmoor and Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem, which are set in a Gothic and eerie London. This is a retelling of Mary Shelley’s novel, moving Victor Frankenstein the student and scientist to early 19th-century London. Here he becomes friendly with Shelley and Byron and indeed accompanies them and the newly-married Mary Shelley on their visit to the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva, where Mary’s novel was famously conceived during a period of prolonged inclement weather.
Dr Frankenstein has a fearful secret in the knowledge that during his experiments with electrical forces in London he has reanimated a corpse, who is now running amok as a fearsome and ugly monster, seeking some form of revenge for his resurrection, haunting Frankenstein with the terrible being he has unleashed.
As expected with Peter Ackroyd, the story is authentically and capably narrated by Frankenstein in the language of the time, utilising plot strands, phrases and patterns of speech from Mary Shelley’s novel. As an entertaining and literate tale, the book works, even with a joke or two (i.e., the identity of the monster) and an unexpected twist at the end.