The Writer's View: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel


From Goodreads: Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real. They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only piques Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not be satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Elizabeth, Henry, and Victor immediately set out to find assistance in a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.

Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrads life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another.

The Writer's View

This is a very strange review for me to write. I should start by saying that this came highly recommended from several of my regular blogging buddies. It is an excellent book that is very well written with a cool concept (a character study of the youthful Victor Frankenstein). The last 1/3 of the novel had some of the best action sequences I've ever read.

All that being said, I did not love this book. But what I did not love about this book is what really makes it great.

The Antihero

According to Wikkipedia, an antihero "is a protagonist who lacks heroic virtues and qualities, (such as being morally good, idealism, courage, and nobility).

Victor Frankenstein is an antihero. I'm all for flawed characters, but for me, Victor left the realm of flawed and ventured into the realm of unlikeable. I found him to be especially despicable in some of the early scenes concerning the love interest, Elizabeth. That's not to say Victor doesn't have his heartfelt moments, but I found his dark side to be too much for my taste.

That aside, I really did admire what the author set out to do: reveal the significant parts of Frankenstein's childhood that shaped him into the man who became the Frankenstein of Mary Shelly's famous novel. That required the creation of a teenage antihero. Despite the fact that I didn't much care for Victor, the story is beautiful rendered with lots of other great heroes and some amazingly creative adventure/action scenes.

Even though this book wasn't necessarily for me, I would not hesitate to recommend it.