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Friday, October 5, 2012
This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #1)
Kenneth Oppel
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: August 23, 2011
Source: Erica @ The Book Cellar
Goodreads | Purchase
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 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.
I was surprised by how much I liked this book. It was dark and gothic, and basically exactly my cup of tea. There was romance but not too much, and there was mystery. There was intrigue. Betrayal, secrets, and lies. unexpected twists and endings. Things that I never saw coming. Characters who have become very dear to me in a very short time.

I just love Victor. He's always been rebellious, and there's definitely a sort of internal darkness in him that just kind of starts to consume him in this book. He craves power and superiority, and he wants to prove that he is better than his brother. But he has some admirable traits too. He does really want to save Konrad, and he'll do absolutely anything to assure that that happens. Even when it means making sacrifices. His heart is always in the right place even if his mind isn't.

Elizabeth I felt very conflicted about. She has two sides. On one side she is the girl everyone expects her to be. She loves Konrad, the more beloved twin. She is a perfect lady. But there's also another, darker side to her. She really wants to suppress her dark side, I think, but she simply can't. It's a part of who she is, the passionate part of her, and Victor especially seems to bring it out in her.

I actually didn't like Konrad at first, but I really came to care for him as the story went on. He's a bit too good for my taste, but he's still very caring and he's smart. Perceptive, too. Through him, we get different insights into Victor.

So, Henry doesn't do much throughout the course of this novel. He was unfortunately very underdeveloped. But he's obviously smart, and he's the one who figures out something crucial in the end. I do want to hear more about him because I can definitely see him growing into a better, more detailed character.

The plot had a lot of action, and there were some pretty high stakes. Victor and Elizabeth are fighting for Konrad's life, and they know that they don't have that much time. Every moment counts.

But there are sacrifices that need to be made. It isn't an easy journey by any means. It will test the bonds of love and family and see what is left behind. It goes through Victor's own battle in his mind. He loves the alchemical world he's discovered, but he knows that it's forbidden. There's a struggle about the morals of what he's doing, but he manages to convince himself that he's only doing for Konrad. Even if, really, he knows otherwise.

There were definitely some unexpected plot twists. It was really clever the way something would appeal to be one thing, and then I'd learn something new and find out that it was something else entirely. It was fascinating to watch the story unfold.

It connected to both the past and the future, too. It's a dark and gothic story, but it also hints at modernity and yet it holds tight to the values of the past. There's this blending of time that kind of lends a unique feel to the story itself.

I mean, I'm really just singing praises here. So a few things I didn't like: I feel like at some point, a few things that happened just didn't make any sense to me. Obviously this is somewhat unrealistic and something of almost a fantasy, though not quite. Even so, some of the things in this book just couldn't convince me of their legitimacy.

But overall? I mean, I loved this. That's all, really.

The romance was definitely different than what I'm used to. Konrad and Elizabeth are engaged and in love. And yet, Victor loves Elizabeth, and it's pretty obvious that Elizabeth feels something for Victor. But it's a love very different than what she feels for Konrad. I enjoyed the whole compare and contrast aspect of it all. It didn't feel fake or instalovey somehow, either. Everything about it was very natural.

I really like Kenneth's writing. Getting into Victor's head is awesome, because we get to see just how messed up he is. He starts off wanting only to do the right thing, but slowly part of himself drifts away into near madness. The whole process of this was just done wonderfully. I'll go so far as to say that it was absolutely fantastic. He's obviously an experienced writer, which I also liked. He doesn't drag things out. He is to the point without being overly concise, and his descriptions? Peerless.

The ending was completely unexpected. Like, I really and completely did not think that it was going to end the way it did. I'm honestly not sure I've ever been so shocked. But looking back on it, that ending honestly and legitimately made sense. So I see what it was ended that way. And really, it wasn't bad. It probably was the best ending for this book.

I really did love this book, so I'll definitely be picking up Such Wicked Intent with serious enthusiasm. It was probably a great deal darker than I expected, and it wasn't perfection. Still, it was utterly close. I would definitely have to recommend this read since it really did capture me completely. Once I began to read this book I was under its spell until I turned the very last page. And I didn't mind at all.




  1. I am so excited to read this one, I haven't seen many reviews so I was hesitant but, it sounds so good, I love the cover it may sound funny but, my favorite part about it is the font for the title, which I also love. I haven't read a few gothic type books and I have really enjoyed them. I definitely need to give this one a try! Awesome review!

    Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven

  2. This reminds me of the anime Fullmetal Alchemist not only because of the alchemy aspect, but also because of losing a limb. This book sounds fabulous. And love triangles with twins? Must not miss!

    Great review, Belle :D

    Gellie @ Kaleidoscope World.

  3. I think we all hope to stumble upon a library that changes our lives. This sounds really fun.

  4. SOOOO glad you loved this one!! :) Wasn't it just fantabulous? Seriously. I adore Victor soooo much. I feel the same way about all of what you said! :)

    And yes - Henry is so much more developed in book 2!! (Which was brilliant, by the way!!) Definitely read Such Wicked Intent soooooooooooon! :D


    Sierra @ Yearning to Read

  5. Ooh I'm so happy to read such a positive review of this one. I've been wanting to read it and now it's the perfect time of year! Thanks for the great review :)

  6. Thanks for the review. I definitely need to add it to my to-be-read list. This book wasn't even on my radar before.

    BTW, your twitter bird is still creepy and likes to stalk my mouse. Please don't eat my mouse.

  7. Great review! I've wanted to read this book for a while now. Your review makes me want to read this book even more. I have this book on my iPad but I haven't gotten to read it yet, so I'll move it up my TBR list. I shall read this book very soon! :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts without any spoilers! :)

  8. interesting C: maybe I will read next year!


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