title: The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, Updated and Expanded Edition
author: Elizabeth Kendall and Molly Kendall
genre: memoir/true crime
published: January 7th 2020 by Abrams Press (first published September 1981)
first line: In May 2017, I learned via the Internet that a new Ted Bundy movie was being made, and the story was going to be told from the perspective of Bundy’s long-time girlfriend.
rated: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
This updated, expanded edition of The Phantom Prince, Elizabeth Kendall’s 1981 memoir detailing her six-year relationship with serial killer Ted Bundy, includes a new introduction and a new afterword by the author, never-before-seen photos, and a startling new chapter from the author’s daughter, Molly, who has not previously shared her story. Bundy is one of the most notorious serial killers in American history and one of the most publicized to this day. However, very rarely do we hear from the women he left behind—the ones forgotten as mere footnotes in this tragedy. The Phantom Prince chronicles Elizabeth Kendall’s intimate relationship with Ted Bundy and its eventual unraveling. As much as has been written about Bundy, it’s remarkable to hear the perspective of people who shared their daily lives with him for years. This gripping account presents a remarkable examination of a charismatic personality that masked unimaginable darkness.
I finished reading The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, Updated and Expanded Edition yesterday and I am still thinking about this uncomfortable and morbidly fascinating memoir.
Elizabeth Kendall wrote her memoir in 1981 and it has been out of publication for some time so when I saw this updated edition was coming out I had to read it. It is hard to say that I enjoyed reading a true crime story like this because it is based on horrific and sad subject matter but it was fascinating to get a glimpse into what was going on with the woman who loved Ted Bundy. One thing that struck me while reading is how naive Elizabeth Kendall was. She was a single mom in her twenties when she met Bundy while out drinking. And she got so drunk that night that she brought him home then passed out with him in her apartment. It is hard not to judge and I know the times were different back in the 1970’s but come on, that is still really risky behavior.
That is when her 6 year relationship with Bundy began. On reading her memoir, she truly loved this man. It was frustrating to read how she let alot of things he did slide and how she would make excuses for him. She ended up becoming an alcoholic during her relationship with Bundy. It seems that his actions were pushing her to drink and I wonder if she knew the truth deep down but was shutting that all out with her drinking.
Kendall reported Bundy to the police on more than one occasion after suspecting him of being a killer, but the cops kept telling her that they’d checked him out and that he was clean. I’d think after reporting him to the police she would have broken up with him and not let him anywhere near her young daughter, but she did not. She continued to see him on and off again. That’s just insane. Again, it is hard not to judge while reading something like this where we know what a monster he was.
Bundy was extremely manipulative and Kendall seemed to gobble it all up. She admits to being dependent on him. Reading much of her story gave me the chills. Included in this edition are photos with Bundy and Elizabeth and Molly. There is the correspondence from jail that Bundy wrote to Kendall shared throughout towards the end of the memoir and on reading his own words you get a glimpse into how smooth and intelligent he was, maybe that is how he fooled so many into trusting him.
At the end of the memoir Kendall adds an afterword acknowledging how cringe-worthy some of her original text was and what parts she would change or delete completely from the original 1981 version. Also included is a section her daughter Molly wrote for this edition. Molly’s part at the end was stunning and uncomfortable to read. It just added the extra punch to an already terrifying personal story. I think these two ladies are survivors and brave to share their stories while also being extremely lucky to have survived living with the monster that was Bundy. They pay respect to the women he murdered and to the victims loved ones and families. Her daughter did not sugar coat anything regarding Bundy, she goes all out calling him a “worthless dirtbag”.
Elizabeth Kendall let a real life monster into her life and reading her story was morbidly fascinating while also sad and shocking. Bundy was with her acting perfectly normal just hours after committing atrocious crimes. I know this is an extreme example, but it goes to show sometimes you just never know a person. I recommend The Phantom Prince if you enjoy reading true crime stories. This was an uneasy read but I could not turn the pages fast enough.
“By writing in the book that Ted was warm and loving and lovable, I was avoiding facing the painful truth that I knew only a small part of Ted. And that small part was rapidly being overtaken by the rageful sexual deviant in him, as he repeatedly acted out his murderous fantasies.”-
p.185, The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, Updated and Expanded Edition by Elizabeth Kendall
“As I write this, the facts are so unspeakably awful; I don’t know why it took me so long to accept the truth, but it did.”- p. 186, The Phantom Prince
Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, Updated and Expanded Edition. Some of these links are affiliate links. The book photo here is my own and not to be removed from this post.