Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney, read by Saskia Maarleveld
Harper Collins Publishers and Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Partially inspired by Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic, Frankenstein, this is the story of American Elizabeth Lavenza, as she starts her first year at Scotland’s Ingold school as its only female medical student. The year is 1901, soon after the Battle of Blood River Poort during the Second Boer War.
Elizabeth encounters misunderstanding and even antipathy from some male students, as well as pushback from professors, but does meet two true male friends. During visits to one of the school’s laboratories, she also gets to know Victor Frankenstein, a former student who has been transformed into something other than human. Ingold is known for creating “Bio-Mechanicals” by reanimating cadavers, but the circumstances of Victor’s death are suspicious. Elizabeth and Victor must keep the extent of their interactions and Victor’s returning cognitive and verbal abilities a secret due to his real concerns about the professors’ ethics and motives.
Narrator Saskia Maarleveld tells this story in a satisfyingly full-bodied voice, which matches well with the self-confidence that someone like Elizabeth would have needed in order to hold her own as the only female medical student at her school. Yet Maarleveld also capably expresses Elizabeth’s self-doubt and fear. She believably voices American and British accents, as well as both male and female characters.
Those who enjoy Cadaver & Queen should of course check out Shelley’s Frankenstein in this, its celebratory 200th year. Mackenzi Lee’s This Monstrous Thing is a suggested read-alike set in 1818 Geneva in which a skilled mechanic uses clockwork parts to revive his deceased brother. Megan Shepherd’s The Madman’s Daughter, a retelling of H.G. Well’s The Island of Dr. Moreau from the perspective of his daughter, is also recommended for those who liked the mad science, ethical questions and romance of Cadaver & Queen.