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Extended Audio Sample The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein: A Novel Audiobook, by Peter Ackroyd Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (537 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Peter Ackroyd Narrator: John Lee Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2009 ISBN: 9780307702272
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Victor Frankenstein, a serious-minded student from Switzerland, meets "Mad Shelley", poet and atheist, at Oxford University. Soon, the two young men are deep in discussion of electrical science and natural philosophy. Frankenstein begins to contemplate new principles and new beliefs. Frankenstein embarks on his anatomy experiments in a barn in the secluded village of Headington, just outside Oxford. But the cadavers supplied by the local coroner are frequently damaged or decaying, so he moves his coils and fluids to a deserted pottery manufactory in Limehouse. Here he makes contact with the Doomsday men - the resurrectionists - who row across the Thames in the dead of night to bring him the fresh corpses of the recently dead… Spine-chilling narrative and ingeniously clever twists of plot and character.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An entertaining and bracingly intelligent yarn.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • Read [Ackroyd's] fictions at your peril for what you meet are driven obsessions, deceptions and plots of a stylish complexity, mingling wit and high intelligence...a brilliant, impressionistic piece of literary art, and Ackroyd's forte. Scotland on Sunday
  • Ackroyd's new novel works on so many levels it's difficult to know where to begin. As a pacy thriller, it delivers assured edge of the seat action. As historical fiction, it abounds in authentic detail...as homage to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein it brings both invention and wit...a worthy shadow to Mary Shelley's creation, roaming with impish disruption between the pages of history, biography and literature. Evening Standard
  • Ackroyd's novel is, like its famous predecessor, immensely readable. It crackles with that peculiar mixture of ebullience and self-loathing that galvanises Ackroyd's resurrection of the past. His ear for Romantic language is almost pitch-perfect. Spectator
  • A brilliant riff on ideas that have informed literary, horror and science fiction for nearly two centuries…. Ackroyd laces his narrative intelligently with the Romantic ideals of Lord Byron and Percy Shelley, and deftly interweaves Victor's fictional travails with events of the well-known 1816 meeting between the poets that inspired Mary to draft her landmark story. Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • Leave it to this most distinguished living biographer of British poets to fabricate such a delectable conflation of history and imaginative literature.... However inured you may think you are to the shocks of horror fiction, Ackroyd will violate your defenses with his diabolical intelligence and his uncanny empathy for both real-life and imaginary characters. Bookpage
  • Ackroyd takes Mary Shelley's hint of the doppelganger, and plays with it fascinatingly in a fast-paced thriller.... The novel leaps to its climax nimbly as a pursuing fiend, and ends suitably in fiery revelation. The Independent
  • A brilliant jeu d'esprit. Above all, it stands as a tribute to the power of the human imagination. Daily Telegraph
  • It takes a writer of considerable confidence, wit and skill to attempt a modern retelling of a bona fide English classic...[Ackroyd] is the man for the job.... terrifying and fascinating in equal measure.... An intelligent, creepily beautiful and haunted thing. The Times
  • Thrilling concoction....Ackroyd's telling of the tale is a worthy revival--I found his book so creepy I kept the bedroom light on all night. Daily Express
  • “From its opening…to its last, gasp-inducing page, Ackroyd has imbued his book with enough ‘electrical fluid’ to animate a corpse.”

    Boston Globe

  • “[The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein] will enhance your knowledge of the original version, and it may give you nightmares…A tale told again and again, it still casts a spell.”

    Seattle Times

  • “A tribute to one of the great Gothic stories of all time…[A] surprise ending…makes the reader reconsider the entire plot. It’s a fascinating twist, updating the Frankenstein legend with a spritz of Freud.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “The novel has a subtle texture, swift prose, and the author’s customary panache…Ackroyd offers some tasty literary, biographical, historical, and geographical snacks…Casebook is partly about narrative itself, about points of view and the protean nature of truth.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Most satisfying…This fast-paced, most readable novel is charged with electricity and enchanting mischief.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “A modern retelling that intelligently restores the story’s relevance…It’s the meaningfulness that Ackroyd has brought back to life that matters.”

    San Antonio Express-News

  • “Ackroyd’s writing style and attention to detail complements Mary Shelley’s classic novel and fuels an utterly believable vision…This captivating tale would work in its own right, or read as a companion piece to amplify the themes and questions raised in Shelley’s.”

    Newark Star-Ledger

  • “Ackroyd loves taking what we, the general reading public, think we know about great writers, only to twist that knowledge into new fictional shapes…He is the great pretzel-baker of contemporary fiction. And this is one of his tastiest, and twistiest, products so far.”

    Financial Times

  • “A brilliant jeu d’esprit…Fiendishly clever…The background is meticulously researched, with fascinating incidental detail.”

    Daily Telegraph (London)

  • “Peter Akcroyd’s new novel works on so many levels, it’s difficult to know where to begin. As pacy thriller, it delivers assured, edge-of-seat, action. As historical fiction, it abounds in authentic detail…As homage to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, it brings both invention and wit.”

    Evening Standard (London)

  • One of the 2009 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 astrangerhere | 2/2/2014

    " I'm sad I can't give this 3.5 stars. The story was engaging in that way that it was a trainwreck you couldn't look away from. I ejoyed the closing plot twist, which I did not see coming. My only complaint was that there was not enough Mary Shelley and some of the characters were not fully realized, though given the ending, I can understand why. The ending itself, however, was terribly abrupt. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cat | 1/19/2014

    " An interesting riff on the Frankenstein story peppered with early 19th century personalities, including Percy Bysshe Shelley as best friend to the troubled young Frankenstein. Fun characterization of Lord Byron as a real prick, and a nice gotcha ending. Not the best writing, but it held my interest and entertained. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gregory Rothbard | 1/19/2014

    " Loved this book so much a review will be coming. I need to go and discuss this book at the Sandwich in Group. Thank you brenda for finding such a cool book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 1/18/2014

    " Well. Much creepier than Shelley's original Frankenstein, which I didn't think possible. (shudder) Ugh. BUT I do think I will be reading more of Ackroyd's stuff - I enjoy it when authors flesh out classics or factual events with a fictional story. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Keets | 1/13/2014

    " Simply could not get through it. Too labored a read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ezzy | 1/11/2014

    " Definitely prefer a less chatty monster. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Zaynah | 1/9/2014

    " Started out reading this for class, then I was reading it for fun ... Then the twist at the end happened and I felt like I'd just watched that movie with Johnny Depp, The Window or whatever. I wasn't quite as bad, but almost. The thing that saves the book from its own ending is the fact that it's a retelling of a story that makes more sense than the original - as my teacher said, he couldn't get over the original monster learning to read by watching a child being taught how to read through a window. Since the author is critically acclaimed enough for me to have read this book in class, I think that changed the way I read it in that I was expecting some conclusions on the historical characters Ackroyd uses - that was silly of me. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Simon | 1/5/2014

    " Literary piffle with a cop out ending,,,,,,,,,,,,,bring on the monsters "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark Johnson | 12/22/2013

    " A gutsy failure, which seems appropriate. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amanda | 11/26/2013

    " Not quite what I was hoping for and unfortunately, a little disappointing. Ackroyd's modern, psychological approach to Frankenstein is interesting, but the twist in the myth left me cold and there is little here for a Frankenstein fan that in my opinion, Shelley does much better. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brynn | 11/5/2013

    " Well written. But I don't see the point of the exercise. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Renee | 11/4/2013

    " I enjoyed this retelling of this classic and honestly I did not expect to. I figured the story would be predictable and cardboard but instead it was intriguing and captivating. Perhaps going with low expectations made this better but I found this to be a great read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wayne | 10/27/2013

    " Very good book with the author injecting the student Victor Frankenstein in the world of Percy Shelley, Lord Bryon, Dr. Polidori and of course Mary Shelley. Enjoyed the author's faux science behind creating life. However flawed it is - it indeed is written in a way which sounds like it would work! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brenda | 10/19/2013

    " First one read on iphone...fine experience at all levels. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Andrea Walker | 9/25/2013

    " This is well-written, but I found the characterisation bland. I could not bring myself to care for any of the characters and so did not find the book particularly enjoyable. I think it is a good book, however little I enjoyed it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judith | 8/30/2012

    " At times a bit slow, but in general nice and suspenseful. Great ending! I am curious about the real Frankenstein now... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Roger McHaney | 8/23/2012

    " Loved the infused London history and places. This book is stellar with a great twist at the end. Don't expect Frankenstein rewritten. Expect an excellent London book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Colleen | 8/1/2012

    " A twist on the classic tale iwth lots of nods to literary figures of the times "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cheryl | 6/23/2012

    " Very good. Written to reflect the period. Overall tone and language in keeping with the period. Descriptions of Frankenstein's experiments very creepy. Makes me want to reread Shelley....guess that's the sign of a good book, right? It leaves you looking for more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ki | 6/12/2012

    " A dark, intense novel (more for adults). Infinitely interesting, even if you haven't read the original story, but even more fun if you have. This is not a cheerful-pick-me-up book, but it is a good one. Highly recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mario Hernandez | 6/1/2012

    " The book was really easy to read and was pretty fun to read. The end was pretty surprising but didn't knock me off my feet. All in all it is a good book. I like this new spin on a very old classic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim | 2/24/2012

    " Through most of this book I was bored. It didn't really get interesting to me until about half way through. Nice twist at the ending though ... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ki | 5/23/2011

    " A dark, intense novel (more for adults). Infinitely interesting, even if you haven't read the original story, but even more fun if you have. This is not a cheerful-pick-me-up book, but it is a good one. Highly recommended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz | 5/21/2011

    " I liked parts of this a lot but in the end liked the book less than I thought I would. Made me want to read more about Shelley though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bob | 5/10/2011

    " An interesting and highly readable take on the Frankenstein story, but the back-cover blurb gives away the denouement. For fans of Simmons's "Drood" or of resurrection men, or of old London more generally. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judith | 3/1/2011

    " At times a bit slow, but in general nice and suspenseful. Great ending! I am curious about the real Frankenstein now... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Julie | 1/14/2011

    " Well. Much creepier than Shelley's original Frankenstein, which I didn't think possible. (shudder) Ugh. BUT I do think I will be reading more of Ackroyd's stuff - I enjoy it when authors flesh out classics or factual events with a fictional story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristin | 1/9/2011

    " This was an extremely boring book with an incredible ending. It's almost worth reading the first 250 pages to get to the last one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brenda | 1/2/2011

    " First one read on iphone...fine experience at all levels. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 12/31/2010

    " A gutsy failure, which seems appropriate. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liketexas | 12/27/2010

    " A retelling of the Frankenstein story that manages to live up to the original. It reads more like historical fiction than gothic horror, and the author puts his own spin on the monster that prevents this from being a mere re-tread of the original tale. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brynn | 10/31/2010

    " Well written. But I don't see the point of the exercise. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris | 10/20/2010

    " Ackroyd has captured the mood and style of the original book and put his own spin on the story. A good old-fashioned book that you could escape into. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ben | 8/5/2010

    " A great retelling of the Frankenstein story laced with gothic horror and Peter Ackroyd draws on his extensive knowledge to create a vivid portrayal of early nineteenth century London. "

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About the Author
Author Peter Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd has written acclaimed biographies of T. S. Eliot, Dickens, Blake, and Sir Thomas More, as well as several successful novels. He has won the Whitbread Book Award for Biography, the Royal Society of Literature’s W. H. Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the South Bank Show Award for Literature.

About the Narrator

John Lee, a stage actor and writer and a coproducer of feature films, has narrated more than one hundred audiobooks of every conceivable genre, earning some three dozen Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award.