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The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  919 Ratings  ·  203 Reviews
"It was at Oxford that I first met Bysshe. We arrived at our college on the same day; confusing to a mere foreigner, it is called University College. I had seen him from my window and had been struck by his auburn locks." The long-haired poet - 'Mad Shelley' - and the serious-minded student from Switzerland spark each other's animated interest in the new philosophy of scie ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 4th 2008 by Chatto & Windus (first published 2008)
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What if Frankenstein creates its own creature?

A surprisingly and great book by Peter Ackroyd with plenty of famous writers among the characters, like Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Daniel Westbrook, Harriet Westbrook, John Polidori, Fred Shoebury, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron.

Hard to understand why this book has been underrated by some reviews.
Jun 20, 2010 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cannonball-read
Have you ever read a book and have just been entirely unsure as to why the author decided to take the time to write it? That’s pretty much how I feel about The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd. A slightly adjusted retelling of the Frankenstein story by Mary Shelley, the novel does little to improve or grow upon the original story. Essentially, Victor Frankenstein, a young scholar from Switzerland, enrolls in Oxford, where he meets the revolutionary poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Co ...more
What would've happened if Dr. Frankenstein had actually lived and knew the Shelleys? That's the question that Peter Ackroyd answers in this book.

Frankenstein travels to study at Oxford where he meets Percy Shelley. The two hit it off and become friends. What then follows is a commingling of Shelley's life with the story of Frankenstein. It's a surprising good book, and does seem to play a little with the opinion by some that Mary Shelley did not write Frankenstein. (Some people believe it was Pe
Dec 06, 2009 Felice rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
How do you feel about things that go bump in the night? Me, not so good. I am a coward. I am Chief Coward from Cowardville. I avoid scary movies and scary books and scary people too. much I was looking forward to reading Peter Ackroyd's new book The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein the F-word frightened me off a bit. But then the lure was too strong and I caved.

In this retelling of Frankenstein on that famous ghost story filled night when Mr and Mrs Shelley were staying with Byron and Mar
May 19, 2011 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Initially, I found it difficult to get into a "reading rhythm" with this book, but once I did, I found in completely engaging. This is a retelling of Shelley's horror classic, and the author has made liberal use of real-life figures, such as Lord Byron, Polidori, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and, of course, Mary Shelley herself.

Phenomenally descriptive, many passages read like poetry; this author is a master at setting scene, and one is able to visualize, and almost smell, the dark, filthy streets of L
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Aug 03, 2009 Jayaprakash Satyamurthy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Now this is more like it.

Peter Ackroyd makes Victor Frankenstein a student at Cambridge, which enables Victor to make the acquaintance of Percy Bysshe Shelley and his various associates, including a certain Mary Godwin, and also lets Ackroyd find a way to shift the bulk of the action to his own home turf, London. There's an interestingly Dickensian overtone at times. Ackroyd's narrative is substantial, but poised, without waste and enriched with excellent secondary characters, real and fictional
Cheryl Gatling
Two things about this book. One, Mary Shelley's original telling of the Frankenstein story is better. So if your main interest is learning how a 19th century amateur scientist re-animates dead human flesh, and what that might mean for society and religion, for the creature and the created, then you won't want to miss the classic. But the second thing about this book is that there is a surprise at the end, which makes it difficult to review without giving it away. As in Atonement, when you get to ...more
Nov 14, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic, shelley
I love retellings of the "haunted summer" of 1816, wherein Byron, Shelley, and Mary Shelley read ghost stories to each other and came up with the bet to produce the scariest ghost story of them all -- supposedly leading to Mary Shelley's dreams wherein she came up with the idea for the novel "Frankenstein...." In Peter Ackroyd's version, Dr. Frankenstein is a real person in attendance at this haunted gathering. His friendship with Percy Shelley has a great deal to do with his beingthere, and the ...more
Oct 20, 2009 Satia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd is a retelling of the gothic classic Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. As with all retellings, one approaches the new version with trepidation. Is there a need to retell a story that has already been told so well? Will this version offer anything new or interesting? What, if anything will be lost in translation?

When I began the novel, I stepped back a bit from my own expectations and tried to allow Ackroyd to give me the pleasure of revisiting a
Nancy Oakes
Nov 02, 2009 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-away
This is Peter Ackroyd's retelling of Shelley's classic in his own postmodern sort of way. Actually, in this novel, Victor Frankenstein is a real person. Included among his best friends is Percy Bysshe Shelley, and through him, Victor meets up with other Romantic-era superstars: Lord Byron, Byron's personal physician Dr. Polidori (writer of a small novella you may have heard of: The Vampyre), and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus) herself.

Ackroyd ha
Nov 19, 2009 Benbo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In some ways I feel that in trying to breathe a new life into the story of Frankenstein, Peter Ackroyd has mostly succeeded only in making his own awkward monster. The beginning of the book is slow, and I was not really drawn in until the creature of the story emerges, mainly because the creature is the only character that I found fully drawn and riveting. It is the only source of real drama; everything else comes off as superfluous. Partly I think this results from Ackroyd's choice to tell the ...more
Dec 29, 2009 THE rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The multi-talented Peter Ackroyd, distinguished British biographer, critic, cultural historian, and novelist, offers one of his most inventive works since The Trial of Eliabeth Cree (1995). As his recent historical novels reveal, his interests are broad--the Lambs, Heinrich Schliemann, John Milton among many others--and he has an expansive imagination, prolific pen, and a wide-ranging knowledge. In this work, he demonstrates his various skills by retelling the Frankenstein tale complete with the ...more
Jan 02, 2015 Ian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Victor Frankenstein, a young man from Switzerland, joins Oxford University, where he meets Percy Bysshe Shelley. The two become friends, although their interests only just coincide – Frankenstein wants to understand how life is created, and focuses his investigations on reanimating dead bodies using “the electrical fluid”, whereas Shelley’s investigations are more metaphysical. Even after Shelley is expelled, the two remain close – Frankenstein even moves to London to be near him. In order to fu ...more
Kay Stopforth
I feel kind of mean only giving this three stars, as it was absorbing, atmospheric and well written, but it didn't engage me on an emotional level at all.
This was a clever attempt at retelling the famous story - perhaps a little too clever. The Shelleys feature prominently, with Byron and Polidori also making key appearances. None of them is portrayed particularly sympathetically, except perhaps Mary, but she's not in it that much. Shelley is depicted as a narcissistic twit, and Byron as a chil
Oct 24, 2009 Kayeb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It reminded me of a conversation with a friend not so long ago, that it takes a series of small steps or yeses to reach an outcome, and as this story unfolds, we see Victor Frankenstein making just step towards the outcome at a time.

Questions are this a creation or the creator that wreaks havoc? what is the nature of human consciousness? What is the power of a this case that between Percy Bysshe Shelley and Victor?
We al
This was rather slow to start for me. That may partially be because this has been a stressful week for me, but it finally picked up about 150 pages in.

Ackroyd has a great style - I didn't feel so much like I was reading a neo-Victorian novel as I was the real thing at times. His settings and descriptions were wonderful, and the overall atmosphere of this was great.

As far as story and plot go, however, I wasn't all that impressed by this one. It has an interesting take on the tale, with Frankens
Oct 20, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have long been a fan of books that explore iconic characters in a new light. Capturing the flavor and cadence of the time period, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein pulls the reader into the world of London through the eyes of the newly arrived Frankenstein. Quickly establishing the influences that shape his path, the story is engrossing in it pacing. An air of trepidation and dread lingers as Victor begins his exploration of science and the boundaries of the natural and unnatural world.

Sep 07, 2010 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 19, 2015 Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was suspicious at first; there were so many parts of this book that felt deja vu lifted straight from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein - what could possibly be the original contribution of this novel? Well. It did not disappoint. Purporting to be the "true" story of Victor Frankenstein, from which Shelley got her version, this was a very satisfying, very creepy retelling of the classic. Most impressively, it was written in the language of the time: it reads just like Frankenstein, the original.

Dec 05, 2009 Annji rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Not his best by a long shot and even the descriptions of early 18th century London feel (surprisingly for Ackroyd) a bit photocopied and yet this is good madcap fun. A sort of re-imagining of Mary Shelley's novel, we see Victor Frankenstein as an Oxford dropout, experimenting with corpses in a warehouse in Limehouse. He's friends with Shelley, meets Byron and there's even an ostler-cum-surgeon's apprentice called Jack Keat who dies from tuberculosis and then....well, read if you want to find out ...more
Oct 23, 2009 Angela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work-reads
Eerie, creepy and beautifully wrought language combine to create an interesting take on Frankenstein's monster. I especially appreciated the author's ability to create such realistic settings: Geneva, the streets of London, riverwalks and laboratories, each are imbued with such detail and feeling, I thought I was visiting each scene myself.

Slow at times, but still delightful and horrifying; I did enjoy this title and will certainly read this author's work again.
Nov 27, 2010 Melinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2011
Wow! I loved this book! Casebook is a reworking of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein told in first person by Victor Frankenstein, the mad Swiss scientist who created the famous monster. Weaving throughout the novel are the poets Shelley, Byron and Mary Shelley herself. Determined to find the mystery of life, he soon latches onto Shelley's ideas to harness electrical energy. Great biographical fact and fiction - and the shocking twist of an ending will knock your socks off!!
Aug 22, 2011 Loopie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say that im always intrigued with stories with one perspective. This book (obviously a retelling) does just that. It shows you the how Victor Frankenstein sees the world and why he goes through experimenting on corpses. As he goes deeped and deeped into his experiments, he creates the mosnster we all know very well. The experiments, his paranoia, and the un-dead he created chilled me to the bone. I highly recomend it.
An interesting take on Shelley's Frankenstein. As a fan of the original, I probably would not recommend this novel to a fellow fan. If I had tried harder to dissociate the two versions, perhaps my reading experience would have been better and the ending might not have left me feeling so disappointed.
Aug 22, 2010 Steffi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: places-london
An enthralling novel in which Victor Frankenstein meets his author and her environments (Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, Polidori), for example Victor travels with the Shelleys to Switzerland (a travel which took place in reality, too). Ackroyd combines the story with atmospheric description of London and ideas of this time and characters about liberty and society.
Feb 17, 2017 Isabelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Abi Rhodes
During a stormy and decadent evening beside Lake Geneva, in 1816, a conversation between Mary Shelley, her husband, Lord Byron, and friends turned to experimentation on human subjects. They discussed rumours that Erasmus Darwin had re-animated the dead, and then began to read Germanic ghost stories to one another. It is said, on this night, that Mary Shelley had a terrifying dream, which bore Victor Frankenstein. The next morning she recounted her nightmare. She had seen ‘the pale student of unh ...more
Ashley Garst
This is another "rewrite" of Frankenstein that I found out about after hearing that it had been optioned to be made into a film. Like any and all things related to Shelley's classic, I rushed out and found a copy; I'm glad to say that I found it in hardback, making the cover art absolutely stunning and the page quality top-notch. The writing is, of course, beautiful and well done, but the story itself left me with quite a few questions. Not that the plot is unfinished, or has undone tangents; si ...more
Dec 24, 2014 Aimee rated it it was amazing
*This review may contain spoilers*

What's it about?

"The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein" opens with a heated discussion, as Percy Bysshe Shelley challenges the conventionally religious Victor Frankenstein to consider his atheistic notions of creation and life. Afterward, these concepts become an obsession for the young scientist. As Victor begins conducting anatomical experiments to reanimate the dead, he at first uses corpses supplied by the coroner. But these specimens prove imperfect for Vict


4 out of 5

After Victor Frankenstein goes to London to study at Oxford, he meets Percy Bysshe Shelley. They become fast friends, but with Shelley's radical views, will Victor get an idea that will put him on the road to darkness?

This is the second time I'm reviewing this because I want to. :X Actually, I'm re-doing some (most) of my reviews so that I can make them (hopefully) better. With this one, I will com
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Peter Ackroyd CBE is an English novelist and biographer with a particular interest in the history and culture of London.

Peter Ackroyd's mother worked in the personnel department of an engineering firm, his father having left the family home when Ackroyd was a baby. He was reading newspapers by the age of 5 and, at 9, wrote a play about Guy Fawkes. Reputedly, he first realized he was gay at the age
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“Under the force of the imagination, nature itself is changed.” 8 likes
“The endless chatter of this journey had wearied me.” 8 likes
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