Rummanah Aasi
  We all have heard of the Frankenstein story, whether it's from the original novel written by the brilliant Mary Shelley or from various film adaptations. What we haven't examined is what was Victor Frankenstein like as a teen? How did his passion about the sciences start? These are the questions addressed in Kenneth Oppel's new series called This Dark Endeavor which is a prequel to Shelley's Frankenstein.

Description: When his twin brother falls ill in the family's chateau in the independent republic of Geneva in the eighteenth century, sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein embarks on a dangerous and uncertain quest to create the forbidden Elixir of Life described in an ancient text in the family's secret Biblioteka Obscura.

Review: This Dark Endeavor is a stylish gothic story, first in a planned series, which chronicles the adolescences of Victor Frankenstein. When Konrad Frankenstein, the beloved twin brother of headstrong, quick-tempered Victor, falls inexplicably and deathly ill, Victor is devastated and confronted by his own mortality. Without much hesitation he embarks on a dark quest to find a cure. Enlisting the help of his distant cousin and crush, Elizabeth, and his best friend, Henry Clerval, he seeks a disreputable alchemist named Polidori who sends them to retrieve the ingredients for a potion that will supposedly restore Konrad's health. The potion, of course, does come with a cost: it has a history of killing those who drink it. Despite the ambiguous nature of the remedy and warnings to look for the elixir by his father, Victor pushes forward and feverishly follows his course. He not only pulls himself but also Henry and Elizabeth into greater danger with each relentless step.
  Readers familiar to Shelley's original story will have an advantage while reading this series. They will easily see where this series is going and will pick up on familiar personality traits of a megalomaniac in the making. While I never liked Victor as a character because I found him to be too arrogant and cold, I thought he was more approachable in this installment. Though his arrogance and desire to overcome the power of illness and death is still prevalent, we also see that his intentions to save his brother's life is noble. Victor is also plagued by jealousy and sibling rivalry, which also makes him more realistic to the modern reader, which isn't an easy task to do but Oppel does it well. My favorite character, Elizabeth, has a small role in this first book, but I hope she will play a major role in the next as she is a vital character to the story as she provides the voice of reason and caution.
 Though the gothic ambiance is much of a character of itself and sets the mood to the story, the book is highly readable despite its 19th-century style. The author stays true to the original tale by adding his own unique touches to the story including taking a closer look into the dark side of his characters. As a result This Dark Endeavor is tale is melodramatic, exciting, disquieting, and intentionally over the top. It is a delicious mixture of science, history, and horror. Even though I know what the end outcome will be, I'm curious as to how Victor will get to the point of no return.

Curriculum Connection: Use along with the original novel.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Mild PG language and some disturbing images. Recommended for Grades 6 and up particularly for those who enjoy historical fiction, horror, and adventure with a minor romance subplot.

If you like this book try: Such Wicked Intent (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein Book 2), Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Death Note manga series by Tsugumi Oba
9 Responses
  1. I've passed your excellent review on to my English teachers who will be teaching Frankenstein in a few weeks. Thanks!

  2. Jenny Says:

    I haven't read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, but after reading this review I kind of want to so I can then pick this one up and understand it better:) I'm a fan of gothic fiction, it's got such atmosphere and I definitely agree that that atmosphere usually becomes a character unto itself. Beautiful review Rummanah!

  3. I never did read the previous Frankenstein type books. I think because I do tend to steer clear of books (at least at one point in my life) that were horror filled. Then again, when the main character is so unlikeable it also kills off my want to read the book or any installments. But really, I think I can blame it on my horrific ability to read any sort of classics. Not that they aren't good, but their language is hard for me to get through. This one sounds good, but maybe not so much my style. Although, I would love to meet Elizabeth and I have to admit that a Megalomaniac in the making is something that intrigues me. I do like watching a persons descent into madness.

    I may or may not have issues. LOL! Excellent review, Rummanah!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    See, this is why I *adore* book bloggers. I had absolutely no idea that this book even existed and now, thanks to your wonderful review, I MUST MUST MUST read it. It sounds brilliant!

  5. I wonder if I'll still have that advantages seeing as it's been over ten years since I've read the original story. I don't remember Victor being cold and arrogant so I might need to refresh my memory. LOL

    Glad you found the new Victor much more likable.

  6. Jess Says:

    I've never read the original, but I want to so I can catch the little things. I really want to check this out now.

  7. I've seen quite a few reviews praising this one and I loved Oppel's Silverwing series when I was a kid so I'll be checking this one out. I've never read Frankenstein but I think it would be fun to read about the fictional adolescence of Victor Frankenstein.

  8. This sounds like a really interesting book. I've always meant to read Frankenstein. I bet it'd be more fun if I had.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    What an awesome review!! Im even more excited to read this now, I just put it on hold at the library so I cant wait for it to come in...:)

    I LOVED Frankenstein, its such a deep tragic story

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