Sunday, September 9, 2012
This Dark Endeavor ~ Kenneth Oppel
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Being a huge fan of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, I was beyond excited to find out there was going to be a series detailing the life of a teenage Victor Frankenstein. So, I had enormous expectations going into reading this book, and I am happy to say that Kenneth Oppel did not let me down at all.
Victor and his twin brother Konrad are 16 and staying at the family house in Geneva along with their cousin Elizabeth and close friend Henry. One day, they discover a hidden passage way that leads down to a secret room that the friends dub The Dark Library. Shortly afterward, Konrad falls mysteriously ill and Victor becomes obsessed with creating The Elixir of Life, a potion found in a book from the Dark Library, and sets out on a quest with Elizabeth and Henry to track down it's ingredients.
From the beginning, the 4 friends are pretty much isolated from everyone other than Victor and Konrad's parents, so they only have each other to rely on. And Victor uses a tiny cell in the basement of the family's chateau as his first laboratory. The Dark Library itself is completely underground and cut off from the rest of the house, and all of these things combined create this wonderfully creepy, claustrophobic feel.
Even though this book deals with teenagers, and has been lumped into the YA genre, in my opinion it is much more of an adult read. Some of the scenes, especially towards the end are quite intense, and I also feel the need to point out, Victor ends up being portrayed as quite the horny teenager (something that only intensifies in the sequel Such Wicked Intent). So you know...just keep that in mind. ;)
My one complaint...and it truly is a bit nit-picky on my part: The love..quadrangle. I could understand having the conflict of Victor and Konrad both being in love with Elizabeth (though if I'm being honest, the fact that she was their cousin skeeved me out. Yes, I know it was much more common back in those days, but still...), but the addition of Henry also being smitten? Not really necessary.
The actual ending of the book was a bit of a surprise, though it probably shouldn't have been, but it still packed an emotional punch.
This was a truly wonderful, and atmospheric gem that is definitely deserving of a spot on my keeper shelf.