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The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  1,161 ratings  ·  233 reviews
When two nineteenth-century Oxford students—Victor Frankenstein, a serious researcher, and the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley—form an unlikely friendship, the result is a tour de force that could only come from one of the world's most accomplished and prolific authors.

This haunting and atmospheric novel opens with a heated discussion, as Shelley challenges the conventionally r
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Hardcover, 353 pages
Published October 22nd 2009 by Nan A. Talese (first published 2008)
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Average rating 3.33  · 
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 ·  1,161 ratings  ·  233 reviews


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Jonfaith
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
There is no joy without its attendant pain.

Despite the above citation, this was more fun than exemplary. Ackroyd flips the Frankenstein myth with panache. The good doctor hangs out with Shelley and Byron. Science crackles, but only under the penumbra of abject poverty. Mayhew reaches Freud and together pierce Gothic expectations. There’s less a Miltonic fall than a fissure.
Laura
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.
Kate
Jun 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Christine
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
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Roger Brunyate
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Rewriting a Classic

[Review from 2011]

I sat quite still and observed the heavens revolving above my head, and wondered if they were the origin of my being. Or had I come from the creeping waters of the river? Or from the mild earth that nurtured all the plants and flowers of the world? When at first light a wood pigeon came before me, I took part in its existence and pecked upon the ground; when a gull flew above my head I shared its soaring form; wen I watched an otter upon the bank, I could
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Felice
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
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. So...as 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
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Barbara
May 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Aug 03, 2009 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
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Satia
Oct 20, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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Nick
Nov 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shelley, gothic
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
Annie
I was hoping for more than "the exact same Frankenstein story, except Percy Shelley shows up sometimes."
kath g
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
If you like boring writing, irrelevant details, cheap trick endings, and a lackluster retelling that manages to strip away everything that made the original good, the things this book is for you!!
Laurel Hicks
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
The ending redeemed it. In fact, that’s what I kept thinking the last time I read Mary Shelley’s book.
KeenReader
Feb 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
I enjoyed this initially: Mr Ackroyd writes very evocative prose. Unfortunately, this was at the expense of the plot which moved very slowly. I don't think that is a good strategy when you are rewriting a very well known classic. I got bored with the minutiae of Victor Frankenstein's life and studies. If that wasn't enough Mr Ackroyd is a lot fonder of foretelling than I am, which got irritating very quickly. I decided to move onto something that suited me better than this.
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
Nancy Oakes
Nov 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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Benbo
Nov 19, 2009 rated it liked it
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
THE
Dec 29, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Ian
Jan 02, 2015 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
Aug 11, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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Kayeb
Oct 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 that...one step towards the outcome at a time.

Questions are raised.....is this a creation or the creator that wreaks havoc? what is the nature of human consciousness? What is the power of a relationship...in this case that between Percy Bysshe Shelley and Victor?
We al
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Ashley
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
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Elizabeth
Oct 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.

Build
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Pamela
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Annji
Dec 05, 2009 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
Rose
Mar 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.

Basi
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Angela
Oct 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Melinda
Nov 27, 2010 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!!
Loopie
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Steffi
Aug 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
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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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