This Dark Endeavour – Kenneth Oppel
Pages: 298 (ARC)
Publisher: David Fickling Books (RHCB)
Release Date: 5th October 2011
Other Titles by this Author: Barnes and the Brains, Silverwing, Matt Cruse, Dusk, The King’s taster, Half-Brother
How far would you go to save your brother’s life?
Victor and Konrad Frankenstein are twins, born just two minutes apart but with very different personalities. Along with their beautiful cousin Elizabeth, they lead a charmed life at their parents’ chateau. But when Konrad falls dangerously ill, everything changes.
Victor’s quest to find a cure leads him into the Dark Library, a secret room full of ancient, forbidden knowledge. On the spine-chilling mission that follows, he is forced to confront strange foes, alchemical forces and the most difficult torment of all – the pain of unrequited love.
Set against the turreted backdrop of eighteenth-century Geneva, This Dark Endeavour is the first book in Kenneth Oppel’s haunting new Gothic trilogy.
Frankenstein is one of around four or five novels I’ve been made to read at school and actually liked. In fact, I loved it, so I when I heard this was a prequel of sorts I got incredibly excited.
I have to admit that as in the original novel, it took me a while to warm to Victor. He’s arrogant, jealous and rather annoying and I found it difficult to like him at first. Konrad and Elizabeth were a different matter. Konrad is the opposite of Victor: soft-spoken, warm and gentle and Elizabeth is very easy to like – in fact, I think I liked her more in This Dark Endeavour than I did in Frankenstein. She’s a strong character who remains likable even though her opinions often differed very strongly with mine.
My favourite element of the novel, however, would probably be the Dark Library – I would love to explore that place! All of those books filled with alchemy and obscure almost-spells sounds like the best way to pass many rainy weekends. I would have loved to see Victor, Konrad, Henry and Elizabeth get the chance to explore it more thoroughly as I imagine there are many more secrets lurking in there ready for the sequel. The only thing I would change about it is the entry; that’d really freak me out.
With this Dark Endeavour I expected a very dark, Gothic novel. And sure, it was dark in places and has lots of Gothic-y elements, but it wasn’t nearly as full-on as I expected and wanted it to be. To me it was more of an adventure story with a subtle undertone of a doomed romance. There was none of the overly-rich description and tongue-in-cheek melodrama that defines a Gothic novel for me.
That aside, I thoroughly enjoyed This Dark Endeavour as a whole and I’m very looking forward to what I hope will be a much darker sequel.
A big thank you to RHCB for providing me with a review copy.