Sixteen-year-old Victor is brash, arrogant, and brilliant—much like the scowling Frankenstein ancestors who built the looming Château Frankenstein on the shores of Lake Geneva. Together with his twin Konrad, their cousin Elizabeth, and their friend Henry Clerval, they spend their days learning in their father’s vast library or exploring the beautiful world outside the Château. All that changes the day Elizabeth discovers a hidden staircase and a hidden library, full of dusty alchemical books. Contained in that dark abandoned room are the secrets to changing lead into gold, to making flameless fire, and—possibly—to having eternal life. And when Konrad falls ill with a mysterious and incurable ailment, Victor knows that the key to saving his brother lies in the forgotten library. And he won’t let anything or anyone stand in his way.
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel is a remarkably quick read for all its dark themes, and Oppel does a fantastic job balancing late eighteenth century manners and mores with enjoyable prose and suitably modern-thinking characters. It was fun to see the younger versions of Frankenstein’s characters, especially Victor, who is as reckless and filled with hubris as he is in Mary Shelley’s original. This is a fantastic novel for fans of monsters and magic, and especially good for teenage boys coming off The Monstrumologist or even Fullmetal Alchemist.
Editor’s Note: This title is the first book in the series The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein.