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NOTE: This book is a sequel to This Dark Endeavor. Therefore, it will contain spoilers for the first book in the series. You’ve been warned!
Summary: When does obsession become madness? Tragedy has forced sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein to swear off alchemy forever. He burns the Dark Library. He vows he will never dabble in the dark sciences again—just as he vows he will no longer covet Elizabeth, his brother’s betrothed.
If only these things were not so tempting.
When he and Elizabeth discover a portal into the spirit world, they cannot resist. Together with Victor’s twin, Konrad, and their friend Henry, the four venture into a place of infinite possibilities where power and passion reign. But as they search for the knowledge to raise the dead, they unknowingly unlock a darkness from which they may never return.
Review: I don’t always read horror fiction, but when I do, it’s based on classic novels and written by Kenneth Oppel.
Will Victor Frankenstein ever learn? Well, we already know the answer to that question is “no,” so it’s a credit to Oppel’s storytelling skills that we still find his adventures as a young man so compelling. After Victor discovers that one of his ancestors found a way to visit “the other side,” Victor starts plotting a way to bring his dead twin back to life.
As usual…things don’t go according to plan. General weirdness ensures, like finding clues in a painting Arnolfini Wedding-style, strange undead butterflies, making mudpeople, and discovering an ancient tomb right under the Frankenstein Chateau. Sometimes I would wonder “Where is Oppel going with this?” but the last half of the book comes together with the kind of horrifying twists that literally made me go, “Oh no!”
As in the previous books, Victor’s not an especially likeable main character, yet there is still some altruism in him. What “romance” there is still ties directly into the creepy, unsettling tone of the book. It did annoy me that all the young men pursued Elizabeth, but that’s just the way things go.
Victor’s jealousy and selfishness in particular were frustrating to read about, but they’re necessary. There is a line spoken by Elizabeth where she declares that she never quite knows which forces motivate Victor’s actions. This is an integral part of Victor’s character that is so important to who he will later become. Speaking of which, overall this novel seemed to have more in common with Shelley’s original novel. Victor’s frequent use of the phrase “the creature” certainly brings back memories of the way he will regard his eventual monstrous creation.
In short: Oppel doesn’t disappoint in his second super-creepy installment about the world of young Victor Frankenstein.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
Cover & Title: The title works, but I kept waiting for a character to say it in the book. Not a fan of the “photo shoot” cover picture, but I will say Victor’s black armband to mourn his brother is a good touch.
Where I got the book: Shelves of the local library.