A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{January 18, 2012}   This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel

Plot: Long before Victor Frankenstein created his monster, he was the son of a wealthy magistrate in Geneva. He lived a charmed life in a castle on the lake alongside his twin brother Konrad, their beautiful cousin Elisabeth and their friend Henry. But in their 16th year, Konrad turns deathly ill and no doctor can cure him. In desperation Victor and his friends turn to alchemy and the forbidden Dark Library hidden within the castle. They must face great dangers and make even greater sacrifices in order to create the Elixir of Life and heal Konrad once and for all.

I think Oppel got the tone of gothic horror just right for his Frankenstein prequel. The novel is full of castles, dark stomy nights, deep caves and secret laboratories. There is an oppressive air of danger throughout. By the end I was sitting on the edge of my seat, desperate to find out what would happen next but also a little afraid to. Honestly, some of the scenes late in the book gave me chills and I was reading them like I watch horror movies: trying to look away but completely unable to.

Victor is an interesting hero, if you can call him that. You can definitely see the seeds of what he is to become in this intelligent boy: he is passionate, determined but also jealous and prideful. The funny thing is, while reading, I found myself resenting Konrad as he did for always being the best at everything and getting the girl. Elizabeth is the perfect companion for him: as intelligent and passionate with a fiery temper and fierce independence. His love for her is, however, anything but romantic. It’s creepy really, and selfish… not because Konrad loves her too but because he is prepared to ignore her desires in his pursuit of her. Victor is far from evil or mad in this point of his life but there is something occasionally uncomfortable about watching the world through his eyes.

This novel was nominated for the Governor General’s Award (which Oppel has already won before for Airborn) and I’m not surprised. I can’t wait to see how the story, and Victor Frankenstein, develop! The second book, Such Wicked Intent, is due out in August this year.

2012 (#8)


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