Book Review: Cadaver & Queen (Cadaver & Queen Book 1) by Alisa Kwitney (+ a Mini Discussion about Souls) [Audiobook]

Lizzie has enough to deal with, being the first female medical student at Ingold, but then she comes across Victor, a bio-mechanical who seems more human than reanimated corpse, unlike all the others. Victor's memory is still fuzzy, but he's pretty sure he was murdered and that something sinister is going on. Victor doesn't want Lizzie putting herself in danger, but Lizzie is determined to figure out what exactly is going on at Ingold.

Book Review: Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney | reading, books, book reviews, science fiction, Frankenstein retelling, young adult
Title: Cadaver & Queen
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 320
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


I reread Frankenstein recently and am on a quest to read all the retellings! And this one proved to be a thought-provoking, feminist Frankenstein-inspired story with a twist.

While not a retelling, per se, this story took characters and ideas from the original novel as a springboard and twisted them in really interesting ways to form something new and really highlight some of the thought-provoking aspects of the original. Our main character was Elizabeth, our love interest Victor, except, in this story, Victor was the monster. He was a bio-mechanical—a reanimated corpse, usually made of stitched-together parts from various different bodies, although Victor was mostly intact with just the arm of a stranger to replace his mangled one.

The characters were well-written with flaws but also good qualities. My favorite was Byram because of his dry humor and support of Lizzie. I liked Jack too, despite his small role. Lizzie was the protagonist though, and I loved that she was intelligent, strong-willed, and determined. She didn’t let the sexism and all the obstacles in her way stop her from chasing after her goals, which made this a fantastically feminist book. Buuuuuut she could also be so self-assured and focused on trying to succeed that she was uncaring toward patients and didn’t listen to them, and she butted her head into things that’s weren’t her business which put not only herself but also others in danger. So she could be frustrating, but she was realistically flawed (which I like), and she did get called out on a lot of her behaviors by other characters.

Although the pace of the plot was slow, I found myself engrossed by the story. There was so much great stuff going on—mystery, friendship, bio-mechanicals, sinister plans. Oddly enough, I wasn’t all that into the romance (though it was plenty believable)—I was more interested in what was going on with the school and the professors, what exactly had happened to Victor, how it would all impact Lizzie, etc.

I had one main issue though. There were a some threads left hanging, things I didn’t quite understand, and things I wanted to know more about. It was like so many of those mysterious/sinister parts of the plot about the school just got dropped. According to the author, there’s going to be another book that continues the story (albeit with the focus on different characters), so hopefully these will still get addressed. Maybe someone who’s finished the book can help me in case I just missed some things? *SPOILER* Will didn’t believe Victor was still in there at first, but what was their relationship like by the end of the book? Did Victor ever speak to Henry? Makepeace’s heart attack was oddly perfectly timed—was it really a heart attack? (I was rooting for Igor to save the day, to be honest.) Were the professors murdering people for their parts? Why was Lizzie ok with all the shady stuff and totally trusting of Grimbauld and Moulsdale at the end? Why were Grimbauld and Moulsdale ok with Lizzie and her friends knowing their secrets? What exactly was the story behind Victor’s murder? (I was confused by Henry’s explanation.) How did Lizzie end up with a white streak in her hair if Makepeace didn’t actually do anything to her? How did Justine end up with telepathy? *END SPOILER*

One other thing I wanted to mention is that Lizzie thought about how Byram was so attractive that he wouldn’t even be friends with her if it weren’t for his bad foot bringing him down to her level. She mentioned something similar about some boy she had a crush on and got to know while he was ill. I didn’t like the implication that having a disability brings a person’s value down. I chocked it up to just being Lizzie’s beliefs as a product of the time she lived in, but I wanted to point it out so readers could be aware of this kind of thing not just in this book but in life in general.

Last but not least, I wanted to talk about the thought-provoking aspect of this book. I mentioned that Victor was entirely intact except for having someone else’s arm. That one little arm, however, had a big impact. *SPOILER* Victor’s arm kind of had a mind of its own at first, and Victor had some memories of the person the arm belonged to. Later in the story, that other person ended up taking over the body for a short while, and eventually they kind of learned to coincide together, Victor remaining in charge but borrowing on Jack’s traits when he needed them. *END SPOILER* I loved that the author used that to explore the concept of souls and memories and whether our body parts retain a bit of ourselves if they’re kept alive after the rest of our body has died. I’ve heard stories, for example, about people who got heart transplants and then started acting like the person the heart originally belonged to, and things like that make me wonder. When we die, if some part of our body remains alive, does part of our soul, or maybe some imprint of it, remain with it? Or in cases like the heart transplants, is there a scientific explanation? (I did read something about cell memory.) But in the case of fictional Frankenstein stories, if someone is reanimated, do they get their soul back? What if they’re composed from the parts of a whole bunch of people, do they even get a soul? A whole bunch of souls? Maybe that’s why the other bio-mechanicals were mindless—they were confused by having too many souls in one body. This book doesn’t go in-depth into any of this, nor does it force any belief on the reader, but it’s definitely an interesting part of the story.

As for the audio, I struggle with audiobooks in general, but I thought Saskia Maarleveld did a wonderful job. She read in a way that sounded normal rather than overdramatic, and she did men’s voices well and made them sound natural with proper inflection and emotion (those are the two things I usually have the biggest issue with).

Overall, this book gripped me with its mysteriousness and its feminism and its unique twist on the Frankenstein story, and hopefully those loose threads will be wrapped up in the next book!


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Have you read Cadaver & Queen by Alisa Kwitney?
Do you like when retellings use the same characters but put a unique spin on the story?
What do you think, do Frankenstein monsters have souls?


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34 thoughts on “Book Review: Cadaver & Queen (Cadaver & Queen Book 1) by Alisa Kwitney (+ a Mini Discussion about Souls) [Audiobook]

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  1. Greg

    The school sounds really interesting and maybe kinda twisted, which of course sounds fun. πŸ™‚ Judging from the spoilers though it does seem like there a lot of threads left hanging- hopefully the next book clears some of that up. I think I’d want at least SOME of those answers too… still, it definitely sounds thought provoking! The whole souls thing. My feeling would be, if someone dies and the soul leaves, and then they reanimate the body with other body parts (in this case I realize it’s just a new arm he gets) it seems to me the soul wouldn’t automatically return? Wouldn’t there have to be some kind of magic or process to recall a soul? Of course then you get into where did the soul go, which I guess is a whole other topic. πŸ™‚

    Fun stuff.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I was totally sucked in by the mysterious, sinister vibe of the school! And I do hope we get some explanations in the next book about those loose threads. Hmmm, ok, so necromancy, for example, could bring a soul back, but using science alone would not? Interesting theory! I imagine it would definitely be an issue though if a Frankenstein monster made of all different parts ended up with 20 different souls lol.

      1. Greg

        Right, but see that’s my thing. I don’t think a soul WOULD return, let alone a soul for each body part. Although I realize in the context of the book there’s something going on with the body parts maybe having an imprint, or part of, the soul- but I’m just thinking in general. To me a reanimated body using science is basically a zombie? Whereas necromancy or whatever recalls the soul from… wherever? IDK. πŸ™‚

        But that’s just me. If the author is going for the body -part-is-imprinted thing, that could be cool in its own way, with a cacophony of souls causing all kinds of problems, kinda like you allude to!

        1. Kristen Burns

          That’s what I was just saying, that what you said makes sense, because if a soul returned for each body part especially, it would be a problem. Although I do like my theory that, in this book, since Victor had himself and the soul or imprint of the arm, maybe the other bio-mechanicals are just a big mess of imprints/souls lol.

  2. ShootingStarsMag

    Ooh I’m glad to hear you really liked this one. I was curious. I think it’s cool when retellings take the same characters but do their own thing – makes it less obvious as to what is going to happen, you know? The idea of souls living on in organs or body parts is fascinating. I read a fictional book last year about someone getting a new heart and just completely changing – their whole personality and everything. I don’t think that’s possible, but I kind of think little aspects sometimes transfer over in whatever way that works (cell memory, souls, etc.)


    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! Sometimes it frustrates me when something is only inspired-by and not really a retelling, but I really liked how it was done in this one.

      Right? That sort of thing is freaky to think about? I mean, I don’t think an organ donor’s soul is actually going to take over someone’s body either, but it’s fascinating in a freaky way the little things that happen sometimes, like a girl who got a heart transplant (I think it was) and started craving the fave foods of the donor.

  3. suz

    I never really liked Frankenstein but the blurb got me interested. Shame the story had lots of loose ends. Hopefully they will be resolved for you in the next book.

    1. Kristen Burns

      The great thing about retellings is that you don’t necessarily have to like the original πŸ˜‰ I really do hope she ties up those loose ends though!

  4. Olivia Roach

    I really do like when retellings put a different spin on the story and this one sounds great! It sounds like it looks into a lot of different elements of the book I would have interest in, and all the themes sound so good! I wouldn’t be a fan of the vibe that a disability decreases your value because I firmly disagree with that. It’s a shame that not everything is wrapped up well, but I think I would get something from reading this one so I might do.

    1. Kristen Burns

      A totally different spin on things can be great! I also loved the thought-provoking stuff. I’m still hoping the next one will wrap everything up better!

    1. Kristen Burns

      It was! I’m really hoping those things will get explained in the next book. I was really happy the audio was good! Especially since it was the only form Hoopla had lol.

  5. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    You really are reading all the Frankenstein retellings, aren’t you? I mean, it’s awesome I didn’t know there’d be more than one out there, to be honest. It does sound like a really cool interpretation taking elements from the original book and developing them into its own story. I mean, the fact you were more invested in the characters and the mystery than the romance is a good thing as it says the story itself was good, sometimes I feel like the romance can be a driving force overtaking the plot in some books. It sucks you’ve still got unanswered questions but if the author plans to write more it’s probably (hopefully) gonna be resolved there for you.

    1. Kristen Burns

      *whispers: shhhh don’t tell anyone I just bought two more from BookOutlet* Lol. Yeah, since I’m normally someone who likes romance, I found it interesting that I was more invested in the other stuff! Which is why I was disappointed when it all seemed to get dropped at the end. But hopefully I will get those answers in the next book!

  6. Bookworm Brandee

    Well, you have me intrigued…so much so that I added this book to my tbr before I started my comment. πŸ™‚ I think I’m most curious about the idea of whether or not our souls live on in our body parts/organs – and yes, I understand the author didn’t go into it much but that’s still something fascinating to think about. I also like that this is a feminist story and I like the way it seems like Lizzie is written. You also have me wondering about Victor and all that’s going on in this school! See? Curious! I’m glad you enjoyed this sort-of a retelling, Kristen. πŸ™‚

  7. Stephanie Jane

    I’m glad you reviewed this one as it sounds like a book I would enjoy and from the cover art alone I would have dismissed it out of hand!
    How many Frankenstein retellings/inspirees do you think there are?

  8. Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer

    You’ve got me curious and I’ve kind of avoided YA, even if I like this genre. I agree this disability thought process was the norm then but its still frustrating to hear. Great review. I avoided your spoilers since I might look for this on audio.

  9. Cee Arr

    ‘Victor’s memory is still fuzzy, but he’s pretty sure he was murdered and that something sinister is going on.’ – Like, no sh** Sherlock! πŸ˜‰

  10. Zeee @ I Heart Romance & YA

    Oh! I was waiting to see reviews on this book! Really excited for this and I need to find time to listen to YA books now. Anyway, love your review and happy that Saskia Maarlaveld is reading. She is a good narrator!

  11. Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

    I’m really interested in this book! I added it to my GR shelf a while ago but haven’t gotten to it yet, but the cover is STUNNING and I feel like Frankenstein retellings/inspired stories are starting to gain some popularity in YA. I’m actually not too familiar with the original Frankenstein story myself (haven’t read the book or scene any film adaptations), do you think that would hinder the reading experience? I know the general gist of the story…

    1. Kristen Burns

      Nah, your reading experience won’t be hindered at all since this is it’s own story that just took inspiration from the original. Personally, one of my fave things about retellings is seeing exactly how the author used the original, so that’s the reason I like reading the originals first. But yes, I love the cover too! I hope you enjoy this one πŸ™‚

  12. Kat @ Novels & Waffles

    OOOoOOOooo. I haven’t come across many Frankenstein retellings. I feel like most time people do retellings it is for stories like, Beauty and the Beast (though I’m a sucker for BATB retellings, tbh). It’s nice to see different stories being brought to the center stage. Thanks for a lovely review πŸ™‚