Teenage Frankenstein makes his bow

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 April, 2012, 12:00am


This Dark Endeavour
Kenneth Oppel
Published by David Fickling Books
ISBN 978 0 857 56012 4

English novelist Mary Shelley was only 18 when she started to write her most famous story, Frankenstein, which was published in 1818.

Her Gothic novel about a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who creates a monstrous creature from dead bodies, has influenced many authors and filmmakers since then.

Now award-winning author Kenneth Oppel has written This Dark Endeavour, an entertaining and stylish prequel to Shelley's book. Set in 18-century Geneva, in Switzerland, it focuses on the 16-year-old Victor and his twin, Konrad. Their rich, carefree lives face tragedy after Konrad falls terminally ill. Yet one day, Victor, his cousin Elizabeth, and their friend, Henry, discover a secret library in the family's castle. Among old books on magic and sorcery, Victor finds a formula for the 'Elixir of Life'.

He hopes it will help cure Konrad, and asks a sinister alchemist, Polidori, to make the life-saving potion. But Polidori has his own reasons for helping.

The story grows increasingly tense and exciting as Victor, Elizabeth and Henry hunt for the ingredients to save Konrad. Victor's great sacrifice in a gripping scene will have you chewing your nails to the bone.

Oppel's characters are well written and the frightening parts of his story are more psychological than gory.

The second part of the series is due out this summer. I can't wait.