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. Consumed with a drive to test the boundaries of life and the Divine, Frankenstein obtains a series of bodies through London’s resurrection men and creates the famous monster that we all know and love.
While Ackroyd makes use of the different setting to introduce Frankenstein to the likes of the Shelleys and Lord Byron, I still can’t see the point of this book. The original works in so many ways—why even bother to create what is essentially a remake? Granted, it takes a historian like Ackroyd to make London come alive as it does in this novel. The city has so many sides, so many mysteries, that it is a perfect character for any and all period novels. Still, it is a pale imitation of something that has already been perfect for years. I don’t like to say that any work of art is a waste of time, but do yourself a favor and pick up the original Frankenstein. You’ll never get those hours back if you waste them on this one.