This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein

The Dark Endeavor

Author: Kenneth Oppel

Publication: 2012, Simon and Schuster

Pages: 320

Overall Rating: bth_45_zps06f87659[1]                       

Rating for Action: bth_45_zps06f87659[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_3-star-rating_zps73bdba73[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: Victor and Konrad Frankenstein are twin brothers living their family friend, the beautiful young Elizabeth, in a chateau near Geneva, Switzerland at the time of the French Revolution.  When Konrad falls mysteriously ill, Victor, Elizabeth, and friend Henry embark on a dangerous quest to save his life.  After discovering The Dark Library, a font of illegal alchemical knowledge built by one of Victor’s ancestors, they make contact with an old alchemist and work to gather the ingredients for the fabled elixir of life.  Their adventures will take them from the highest trees of Sturmwald to the deepest caves beneath Geneva, and the road to success will be fraught with danger, betrayal, and jealousy.

Age of Main Character: 16

What I Liked the Most: There’s a wonderful sense of period atmosphere and a near perfect balance of adventure and intellectual challenge, as Victor explores the hidden world of alchemy while battling both man and nature to create the elixir.

Victor himself is a complex character, driven by love, jealousy and intellectual pride.  By turns I found myself both admiring and hating him, but the adventure he led me on was never boring.  And it was easy to see how this first leap into the world of alchemy would one day lead him to the infamous heights of Doctor Frankenstein.

What I Liked the Least: Spoiler alert.  Without giving too much away, let’s just say that Victor and Konrad are split over their love for Elizabeth.  It creates some powerful motivations that drive the story, but I ended up feeling that the rivalry stretched on far too long, to the point where I began to find it obnoxious and just wanted it to be over already.

How Good was the Action? Heart pounding.  The action brims with tension , emotion, and edge of your seat fear without ever crossing the line into melodrama.  While the main focus of the story is Victor’s quest for the ingredients that will go into his elixir, the path to success is littered with danger and violence.  This is action at its best.

How Engaging was the Story? The quest for the elixir, and the constantly shifting relationships among the main characters provide a powerful force to drive the story along.  Victor is such a complex personality – brilliant, passionate, impulsive, driven – that it’s almost impossible not to get caught up in his adventure.  The only downside, in my opinion, was that his jealousy over Elizabeth got too drawn out, to the point where I found myself getting very frustrated with him.

Overall Assessment: A wonderful gothic tale, filled with horror, action, passion, and intellectual drive.  It’s a masterful prequel to the classic tale of Dr. Frankenstein.

Profanity: None

Sex: A few kisses and some flirtation, but nothing more graphic

Violence: Yes.  There are many battles with dangerous beasts, and one fairly bloody scene of amputation, but it’s well done and is in no way gratuitous.

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