Sunday, 21 April 2013

This Dark Endeavour - Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavour (Apprenticeship Of Victor Frankenstein #1) - Kenneth Oppel
Website - Kenneth Oppel
Twitter - @kennethoppel
ISBN - 9781849920896 
Publisher - David Fickling Books
Twitter - @DFB_storyhouse
Find on: Goodreads

'The purest intentions can stir up the darkest obsessions.

In this prequel to Mary Shelley’s gothic classic, Frankenstein, 16-year-old Victor Frankenstein begins a dark journey that will change his life forever. Victor’s twin, Konrad, has fallen ill, and no doctor is able to cure him. Unwilling to give up on his brother, Victor enlists his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and best friend Henry on a treacherous search for the ingredients to create the forbidden Elixir of Life. 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.'
- Goodreads

Wow, where to start with this one? It's been on my wishlist since I first heard about it back in 2011 but I've only just read it as I was so sure I would be disappointed. I needn't have worried, This Dark Endeavour (in my opinion) is all I expected it to be. You don't need to have read Frankenstein to read this but if you haven't and you still don't want to after finishing the book then there's something wrong with you! 

From the beginning the characters and the storyline hold your attention and draw you in, the tone is just as dark and enthralling as Shelley's original and the relationship between Konrad & Victor is almost a perfect split between good and evil - his having an identical twin is the perfect plot device to show how easy it is to do anything, including going against the laws of nature to keep a loved one with you. Unlike Shelley's novel you get to see Victor's character in all its glory and depth as he is the principle main character, although he is the 'villian' of the piece you can't help but root for him throughout This Dark Endeavour.

Victor, Konrad, their cousin Elizabeth and best friend Henry are always together, so when they discover a hidden alchemical library deep in the bowels of the Frankenstein mansion shortly before Konrad falls ill, it is the obvious place to search for a cure even though they have all been forbidden from ever entering it again. There then begins a race against time to save Konrad aided by an unreliable source of help, an old wheelchair bound alchemist in the nearby town with a big cat as a guard/servant and going to extreme lengths (especially in Victor's case) to save his beloved brother whilst also falling in love with his brother's betrothed, cousin Elizabeth and the intense rivalry this causes on top of the usual competitiveness between twins. 

It was almost eerie reading Victor's thoughts and seeing quite clearly how he becomes the mad doctor of Mary Shelley's novel, how he is already tiptoeing the fine line between insanity & mere obsession and t becomes easy to see how he becomes the Dr Frankenstein of the classic. The final few pages set out quite clearly the path that Victor is, in a way, destined to follow. The ending shocked me and had me ranting that it was impossible for me to buy the second book in the series, Such Wicked Intent, immediately! Definitely worth staying up until 3am to finish...

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