I love me a good prequel. They’re basically fanfictions of great literature, and we all know how I feel about fanfiction. So Kenneth Oppel‘s This Dark Endeavor, aka the story of teenage Victor Frankenstein beginning to exhibit an alarming affinity for creepy, risky science, was right up my alley. It’s got prissy, old-timey prose, secret passages, midnight capers, and murder most foul.
What This Dark Endeavor is about:
While chilling out at their massive family home, teenage Victor Frankenstein—along with his ever-so-slightly-better-than-him twin brother, Konrad, their beautiful and fierce cousin, Elizabeth, and their charming, word-nerd buddy Henry—stumble onto a brand-new, never-before-explored secret room. It’s the Dark Library, full of ancient texts written by alchemists. Konrad, Elizabeth, and Henry are creeped out. Victor…not so much. He thinks it’s creepy stuff, but he’s also quite the brainiac and he loves to learn. Still. Red flag.
When Konrad falls deathly ill, Victor knows that the Dark Library can help. With the help of a local alchemist, he and his friends begin to construct the Elixir of Life—but in order to do that successfully, Victor will have to push the boundaries of science, nature, love. He claims to be prepared to sacrifice anything for Konrad, but is he?
Why This Dark Endeavor is good:
Okay, no lie, this book creeped me out. Seriously creeped me out. I tried reading it before bed and had to put it down because I was starting to become convinced that there was a monster in my closet.
This Dark Endeavor doesn’t feature Frankenstein’s famous monster (that’s for later in his life), but it does discuss Victor’s monstrous potential. Victor is an excellent antihero/tragic hero. He loves his brother dearly, but also resents him just enough that you wonder if part of Victor wants to save Konrad just to prove that he can. Watching Victor teeter on the edge between acting out of love and acting out of spite is truly thrilling. At one point, I was literally on the edge of my seat. Literally!
Now, of course, my quest to find something similar begins. Any suggestions? Also, if you’ve read This Dark Endeavor, what do you think of Victor’s motivations to heal Konrad? Are they really rooted in love, or is it more about proving that he can do what even Konrad can’t (or won’t)?