Elizabeth Hand, The Bride of Frankenstein -- Pandora's Bride (Dark Horse Books, 2007)

It has always seemed a little ironic to me that out of the classic monster triad of the vampire, the werewolf, and Frankenstein's monster, it is this last one--the only one written by a woman--which has failed to produce a plethora of feminist retellings: the only two I can think of are Theodore Roszak's The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein (1994) and Kim Antieau's The Jigsaw Woman (1996).      

With Elizabeth Hand's Bride of Frankenstein there is finally a twenty-first century feminist reimagining of the Frankenstein story, this one based upon the classic 1935 Universal film of the same name.

Bride of Frankenstein is the latest in a series of novels being published by Dark Horse Press, and based upon the characters of Universal Studios's classic horror films. However, Hand has reached beyond the scope of producer James Whale's original 1935 film to weave together a mythic tale which richly references the work of such German expressionists as F. W. Murnau (Nosferatu) and Fritz Lang (Metropolis and M).

The story is set in the devastated landscape of the post-World War I German countryside and the decadent nightclubs of Weimar. Pandora, for so the monster bride names herself, is desperate to avoid being recaptured by her creator, Henry Frankenstein, who is enraged that the creature he designed to be a mindless servant dares to defy him. As Pandora tries to save herself and those she loves, she learns that, although she considers herself to be unlike any human, her struggle to survive is an experience shared by many, especially those who are considered defenseless or different.

Bride of Frankenstein
is full of Elizabeth Hand's usual luxurious prose, and her style compliments the light-and-shadow feel of the German expressionist images. Fans of early literary and film horror in particular may enjoy the game of catching Hand's many references to horror classics.

[Kestrell Rath]

Elizabeth Hand's Web Page is here; Dark Horse is thisaway.