Literary Fun Fact: Victor Frankenstein had a twin! Well, at least Kenneth Oppel imagines so in this brilliant, twisted prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Victor, his twin Konrad and their distant cousin Elizabeth live the good life in Chateau Frankenstein outside of Geneva, Switzerland around the mid-1790’s. The Frankenstein family is wealthy, their digs are humongous, and the teenagers, along with their best bud Henry spend their summer days hiking or riding around the Jura Mountains and Lake Geneva. Then Konrad falls mysteriously ill, and no doctor from miles around seems to know how to help him. So Victor takes it upon himself to secretly employ a dodgy local alchemist to assist him in concocting the Elixir of Life from a recipe he finds in an ancient book hidden in the Frankenstein library. Victor is determined to use the Elixir to save his brother’s life, though his motivation is not entirely pure: he also hopes to win great acclaim for his discovery, while capturing the romantic admiration of his beautiful cousin Elizabeth–who just happens to be in love with Konrad. Soon, Victor, Elizabeth and Henry are lying like rugs and sneaking out at night to track down the rare, obscure ingredients that the Elixir requires. They are willing to break every taboo known to science and religion in their race to save Konrad. But will Victor’s own selfish nature undo all their desperate efforts in the end? And how will this experience shape the man who ends up creating the most famous monster of all time? As usual, Oppel is a master of pacing, taking readers on a freaky cool adventure that starts off with a BANG on the very first page. In addition, all the characters are fully realized (especially tortured Victor, who tells the dark tale in first person), the love triangle is loads more exciting and bitter than this one, and the action never stops. I have no doubt that you will enjoy this incredibly well executed Gothic/horror/historical novel immensely.
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel