This Dark Endeavour
By Kenneth Oppel
My Rating: 4 / 5
This book has been on my TBR for a while, and I bought it for a great sale price from the Kobo store. Here is the summary:
Victor Frankenstein leads a charmed life. He and his twin brother, Konrad, and their beautiful cousin Elizabeth take lessons at home and spend their spare time fencing and horseback riding. Along with their friend Henry, they have explored all the hidden passageways and secret rooms of the palatial Frankenstein chateau. Except one. The Dark Library contains ancient tomes written in strange languages, and filled with forbidden knowledge. Their father makes them promise never to visit the library again, but when Konrad becomes deathly ill, Victor knows he must find the book that contains the recipe for the legendary Elixir of Life. The elixir needs only three ingredients. But impossible odds, dangerous alchemy and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn. Victor knows he must not fail. But his success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science and love- and how much he is willing to sacrifice.
I loved this book! It has so many great elements: mystery, historical setting, rivalry, jealousy, adventure, and great characters. Victor Frankenstein, his twin brother, and their distant cousin live in the Frankenstein chateau together with Victor’s family and the servants. Along with their friend Henry, they are all well educated and have a great bond, and indeed are the best of friends. One day, they discover a hidden room, full of mysterious and old books, known as the Dark Library.
When their father finds out where they’ve been, he forbids them from entering. However, Konrad begins to suffer from a mysterious illness that seems to threaten his life, and Victor begins to wonder if that forbidden room may hold some knowledge that can save his twin and enlists the help of Henry and Elizabeth in his mission. At the same time, he begins to look at Elizabeth differently, although her heart may belong to someone else.
Victor sets out on a dangerous path, and finds himself torn between love for his brother and jealousy. Victor’s pride and impulsiveness contrast with Konrad’s patience and kindness. While they are twins, they are very unique, and at times Victor wonders if he loves Elizabeth only because he knows that Konrad loves her as well.
I should note that I have never read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, although I am familiar with the general story.
I thought the characters were very well written. Elizabeth is fierce, intelligent, and bold, and I really liked her. She was no mere object for two boys to quarrel over. I also loved the conflict between Victor’s love for his brother, and his desire for the recognition and favour that he thinks Konrad receives to Victor’s own detriment. I also liked their friend Henry – he was certainly less keen on adventure than the others, but he nonetheless joins them and wants to do his part.
I thought the writing and pacing were just perfect. The story moved along quickly and went in directions that I didn’t expect, and I didn’t want to put the book down. It was such a great read and one that I am eagerly recommending. I now look forward to its sequel, Such Wicked Intent, which will be released at the end of this month.