Book Review : This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
Konrad and Victor Frankenstein are twins growing up with their cousin, Elizabeth and friend Henry having wonderful childhood adventures. By accident Elizabeth discovers a secret door that leads to a locked door. The door has a circular opening rather than a handle with written instructions to “greet as a friend”. The impulsive Victor puts his hand within and discovers he is caught! Through Elizabeth’s cool wit he escapes and opens the door discovering The Dark Library filled with books on alchemy and other secrets. When Konrad falls gravely ill and there seems to be no hope Victor is drawn back to the forbidden Dark Library. Within the old volumes he discovers a cryptic recipe for the Elixir of Life. With the help of a former alchemist; Victor, Elizabeth and Henry set forth to make the Elixir and cure Konrad.
Adult Point of View
I did not expect much from this book. I have not actually read the original Frankenstein and so I have not dwelt upon wondering how the mad scientist might have become mad enough to create such a monstrosity. With all of that said I must admit I was blown away with This Dark Endeavor. The background story was interesting and plausible. The characters were multi-dimensional. Future events were foreshadowed. Victor appears to be growing into a Byronic Hero (go to review of Jane Eyre for definitions of a Byronic Hero). He is certainly a tortured soul and perhaps his innocent heroine will be Elizabeth.
The opening scene is dramatic, surprising and indicative of the tone of the entire novel. There is danger, heroics, sacrifice and magic. The world is a place of unexplained mystery.
Victor had a natural crazy streak. He was a dare-devil, curious, jealous, insecure, loving and defiant. Konrad was Victor’s opposite; easily liked, obedient, trust-worthy and in love with Elizabeth. Elizabeth unconsciously wanted to balance her wild nature with Konrad’s calm and dependable nature. Of course there is a love triangle, which I normally don’t like, but in this case it seemed to be a natural extension of the complicated relationship of the twins. The most compelling relationship was between the two brothers, particularly within Victor’s own mind.
There was an eerie feeling in the book as Victor begins to make the choices that will ultimately lead to his egomaniac personality. There was some violence, but the novel is quite clean in language and there is nothing overtly sexual.
I was very impressed with Oppel’s writing skills. For pure enjoyment I would rate this 5/5 stars. (I’m still trying to decide if I should put it in all time favorites.) I am looking forward to reading more of his work!
4 out of 5 stars
– the Mother
I am hoping the teen will get to reading this one soon, she should love it!