Evie's Reviews > This Dark Endeavor

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
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's review
Feb 19, 2013

it was amazing
bookshelves: pure-awesomeness, arc, miya-event
Read from October 14 to 15, 2011

Who doesn't know the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young Swiss student of chemistry and natural philosophy, who, obsessed with the concept of creating life, began a series of experiments that lead to creation of a "monster"? We've all heard the story, some of us have read Mary Shelley's book, the rest have probably watched the excellent James Whale/Boris Karloff's film adaptation of it. Shelley's novel is a true classic of science fiction, dark fantasy and horror, a chilling, deeply disturbing and absolutely heart-breaking tale that has well earned its place in popular culture. But have you ever wondered what lead Victor Frankentein to do all these things? What drove him? What sparked his obsession with finding the ultimate cure for death, what fed his madness? If you did, then this is the right book for you. In This Dark Endeavor Kenneth Oppel answers some of the nagging questions we as readers have had over the years. He takes us on an incredible journey back in time to Victor's teenage years, and, through the magnificent 19th century-sque beautiful, ornate language, skillfully recreates the fascinating adventures and gut-wrenching events that lead to his future as Dr. Frankenstein.

Sixteen years old Victor leads a sweet life. He is a son of privilege. Together with his twin brother, Konrad, and beautiful cousin, Elizabeth, he enjoys all the advantages that come from being the heir to a wealthy and well-respected family. These three have everything they could possibly want. Victor's parents provide them with the highest quality, progressive education. They pass their time playing in the garden, acting in plays, horseback riding, fencing and exploring all the hidden passages and secret rooms in the splendid Frankenstein chateau. One day, when spending time in their father's library, they accidentally stumble upon yet another mysterious passageway hidden behind the bookshelves. At the end of the long, dingy corridor they discover what turns out to be the Biblioteka Obscura - the Dark Library, full of books written in ancient, strange languages, containing forbidden knowledge. Before they get a chance to further explore the contents, their father forbids them from entering the library ever again, making it very clear that it's not a good place and should remain hidden and forgotten. It isn't until Konrad falls victim to a deadly illness that Victor decides to re-visit the Dark Library in hope of finding the recipe for the legendary Elixir of Life. Desperate to save his brother's life, young Frankenstein will stop at nothing. Together with Elizabeth and their friend, Henry, they'll set out on a dangerous journey, one that will change their lives forever.

Enthralling and beautifully shaped - This Dark Endeavor is a remarkable book. I loved every second of it. Kenneth Oppel's lyrical language resembles Mary Shelley's writing style so much that you practically can't tell the difference. At the same time it feels even more fluent and smooth, giving the impression of effortlessly flowing river of words. Mesmerizing, bewitching and deliciously dark - every passage of this book begs to be quoted, to be read aloud, to be re-read over and over again (and possibly shared on Twitter). It's truly a masterpiece and I'm in awe of Oppel's writing. I'm in awe of his exquisite storytelling skills. I'm in awe of the beauty, tenderness and clarity of his words. I honestly can't believe I haven't read any of his previous books - where have I been not to come across any of them before?!

This is an incredibly compelling story. Victor comes across as a charismatic, intelligent, ambitious, full of potential but also very spoiled and self-centered young man. Oppel did a fabulous job depicting his personality. He's such a vivid, well-drawn character. Jealous of his brother, but at the same absolutely devoted and ready to do just about anything it takes to protect him. He is curious, eager to explore, bold (bordering on arrogance) and charming. And then there are those moments when his darker nature shines through, when his wild desires take over and he looses control for just a moment - that's when you realize that this is the same obsessed, obnoxious Dr. Frankenstein that you are reading about. I found it fascinating to get to know him and the motives behind his actions.

I loved the dark, Gothic atmosphere of this book. It was thick and omnipresent on every page. Spellbinding. The setting was fabulous: a three hundred years old fortress near Geneva, surrounded with forests and lakes, with countless chambers, ballrooms, undiscovered passages and murky dungeons. The way Kenneth Oppel combined the elements of horror and romance was utterly masterful. A bitter love triangle, a suspicious alchemist, a forbidden book and an ultimate sacrifice that will change Victor's life forever - the suspense never lets up. The ending will leave you gasping for breath, disturbed but also touched, shattered to pieces. It's a perfect read for long Winter evenings - I highly recommend it!
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Reading Progress

10/14/2011 page 68
22.0% "@kennethoppel is simply one amazing writer. TDE is absolutely gorgeous! Beautiful language, phenomenal setting, tension... I am SO loving it!" 1 comment
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