Kenneth Oppel, best known for the Silverwing series (so. good.), has brought us another pair of books in his can’t-put-it-down writing style, this time, for teens.

this dark endeavour.jpgThis Dark Endeavour
by Kenneth Oppel

HarperCollins
ISBN: 978 1 554 68340 6

Oppel has imagined the formative years of young Victor Frankenstein in these books, and looks at both what might have brought him to his fascination with bringing life from death and how he may have come about his knowledge and methods in inquiry. In this “prequel” to Mary Shelley’s famous novel, Victor’s twin brother grows perilously ill, and he, along with his cousin and close friend, try everything they can, including dabbling in alchemy and the occult, to keep him alive. The stakes are high, the steps along the way fraught with peril, and the whole is a wonderfully fast-paced yet balanced read.

Victor, who famously becomes the creator of a monster built of cadavers later in life, in shown as a young man who has character flaws, to be sure, but the sort of flaws that might have helped make him a captain of industry under other circumstances. It is combined with the death of his twin that his ambitions lead him into the path of seeking power by playing with life and death. This makes for a thoughtful and thought-provoking book, as well. Oppel clearly did a great deal of reading of and about the original novel in creating this work, for he has also had fun tucking it full of references to Mary Shelley’s life and her circle, which makes for a little added egg-hunt fun, but is not obvious enough to detract for those who haven’t read hers. I was left wanting more… and didn’t have long to wait!

such wicked intent.jpgSuch Wicked Intent
by Kenneth Oppel

HarperCollins
ISBN: 978 1 554 68342 0

The second book, Such Wicked Intent, is due out on August 28th, but available for preorder, so you can have it as soon as possible, and not be left waiting after the first. Having already had the chance to read it, I can tell you, you will want to continue the story…

In the second book, we find the Frankenstein family in mourning for Victor’s twin, Konrad. Unable to accept the finality of this, Victor restlessly searches for something, anything, that might bring Konrad back. he begins by trying to contact him with a ouija board, and encouraged, stumbles upon an “elixir of death” that an ancient relative had used to enter the spirit world and return. He hardly hesitates, and soon, he, his cousin, and their loyal friend Henry are all visiting Konrad and trying to learn how to bring him back with them. Things are not always what they seem there, however, and something seems to be stirring…

This followup takes place largely in the spirit world, which is an interesting departure, and allows for new levels of peril, as well as letting Oppel stretch his imagination in creating it. Book two is just as fast and tense as the first, and though this mini-series is intended to be just the two books, it certainly leaves an opening for a third. I have hopes! If not, however, it does also end on a note that suggests what is to come in the famous Frankenstein novel, if only in a little flash of inspiration on Victor’s part.

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