This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #1) by Kenneth Oppel

Title: This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #1)
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 23, 2012
Pages: 298, Hardcover
Source: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads:
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 be 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 don't claim to be an expert on the Frankenstein legend. My knowledge only extends as far as knowing some mad scientist created a monster using electricity in a creepy dungeon like laboratory. And after putting it that way, it's evident I know even less than I thought I did. Nevertheless I expected this to be a dark and maddening tale of experimentation and unusual science. Maybe a little morbid and a whole lotta creepy. Whether the setting that I concocted in my head  has any actual bearing in the legend or not, this is what I was expecting. Suffice it to say, despite a promising start, this book doesn't live up that depiction.

After Konrad Frankenstein falls ill, and modern medicine fails to cure him, his brother Victor Frankenstein turns to Alchemical medicine for the solution, made possible by the secret library built by his mad ancestor that was discovered early into the story. Victor and his companions Elizabeth and Henry set off on a search of the ingredients to the Elixir of Life, which are naturally rare and unusual, the finding of which results in dangerous adventures.

I wasn't pulled into the story or feel the excitement and danger I would expect to feel during an adventure of this kind. Whether this story was a victim of telling vs showing, had a dull audiobook narrator or my expectations were too high I'm not sure (maybe all three). I can't put my finger on why I didn't seem to develop much enthusiasm for this book, I just know that it fell a little flat for me. I also expected more use of alchemy and was disappointed that we don't see much potion brewing or use of this forbidden science.  I might even argue that too much focus was placed on a romance element. The ending was also very predictable and not just because you can assume certain things will happen for the next books in the series to follow the legend. The conclusion, specifically the last sentence, felt a little forced for the sake of the Frankenstein tale. There was no buildup to this sudden mood change or darkening of spirit as I would have liked to see.

Ultimately, I'm giving it 2.5 stars because it could have been better BUT there were no major faux pas or anything particularly wrong with this story. I still liked it I just think my expectations were too high. I am still interested in this story and how it progresses and I imagine that the mood of the book will start becoming more like what I initially imagined. I will definitely be reading Such Wicked Intent... when I get around to it :)

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