This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein
Monsters aren’t born overnight. Their madness can usually be traced to questionable upbringing, a traumatic event from childhood, or even a deep, dark passion and longing that can’t be explained. For Victor Frankenstein, the man who notoriously created life out of nothing in Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN, his madness might never have been if not for events surrounding his twin brother’s life-threatening illness. One could even argue that Victor Frankenstein might be the last person you would expect to go off the deep end. With that in mind, how secure are you in your sanity?
Victor and his twin, Konrad, had a privileged upbringing in Geneva with loving parents, cute younger brothers, their beautiful cousin Elizabeth, and good friend Henry. The twins, Elizabeth and Henry were thick as thieves and spent all their time studying with one another, exploring together and dreaming about the future. Their future seemed bright, indeed, until Konrad falls mysteriously ill with a disease no one can explain. Doctors come and go, but as Konrad draws closer to death, Victor decides to take matters into his own hands. Spurred on by the discovery of a hidden library containing books on alchemy, Victor tracks down a notorious alchemist in town. With Dr. Polidori’s help, Victor, Elizabeth and Henry begin the journey to find the ingredients to the Elixir of Life, the one tonic that may save Konrad.
After a harrowing midnight journey to find the first ingredient, Victor is encouraged and determined to help his brother. He also decides that he is in love with Elizabeth and will stop at nothing to have her. Victor, however, is blindsided by what happens next. His father finds out about his dabble in alchemy and strictly forbids him to continue the dark arts. Then, with the help of a new doctor, Konrad gets better. Before he can rejoice, though, Victor also discovers that Elizabeth and Konrad are in love with each other. Crushed by Elizabeth’s rejection and his father’s dismissal of the Elixir of Life, Victor begins a slow descent into anguish. Knowing his twin brother the best, Konrad consoles Victor, and sooner than later, life gets back to normal.
Konrad even helps Victor find the next ingredient to the Elixir. For a little while, Victor believes he may forget his feelings for Elizabeth and be happy for his brother. He even thinks about giving up on alchemy and trusting natural healing methods. But then the unthinkable happens. Konrad falls ill again, closer to death than ever before, and Victor decides he wants nothing more than to save his brother. Despite his father’s objections, Victor returns to Dr. Polidori to find the last ingredient. When he finds out what it is, Victor realizes that in order to save his brother, he will have to make a life-changing sacrifice and conquer the demons within. But his he strong enough?
It’s not easy to create a monster, but left in the capable hands of master craftsman Kenneth Oppel, the beginnings of Victor Frankenstein are effectively captured in this exciting new trilogy. Oppel carefully intertwines the passion and desire into Victor as he longs to escape the shadow of his beloved twin brother. As Victor slowly sees the fruition of his mini-creations, you can’t help but look ahead to his future creation that still haunts gothic literature. Victor is determined to unlock all the secrets of the dark arts, and I can’t wait to see to what depths he is headed next.
Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on June 22, 2015