This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel.
Book One of The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein
Simon & Schuster: NY, 2011.

Kenneth Oppel is one of my favorite YA authors. So, I picked up this new novel when I saw it and noted that is about the formative years of Dr. Frankenstein. I can hardly wait for the next book.

In the 18th century, Victor is schooled by his father, a magistrate of the republic of Geneva, along with his older twin brother, distant female cousin, and a local merchant's son. Victor leads a fairly innocent, though passionate and adventurous, life. The three cousins stumble upon a forbidden library in the depths of their fortress home. Their ancestral founder of the home was an alchemist, and when alchemy was banned, the library became the family secret.

Victor's brother becomes seriously ill. Doctors are sent for, but Konrad remains weak. A recipe for the Elixir of Life is found among the hidden books. Victor, Elizabeth and Henry go behind the father's back to enlist the help of an infamous alchemist in translating and producing the substance. The three must collect the obscure ingredients, and each is a risk to them. The adventures are extreme and keep the readers spellbound throughout. The beginning and ending of the story are sufficiently creepy, foreshadowing the direction Victor will take later.

I have not taken the time to read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, but this story is strong enough that I am likely to try it. Possibly through Project Gutenberg. I want to see if there was family background info that Oppel incorporated, or how much he embellished. I do like the alchemy references and the conflict between alchemy and the emerging modern medicine/biological studies. Victor also struggles with himself regarding his attraction towards Elizabeth, who is Konrad's sweetheart.

Note: There are apparently 2 covers for this book. This is the one on the copy I read. Also, the 2nd book of the series is out, Such Wicked Intent.

related-twins, brothers, alchemy, history, Geneva, 18th century, Dr. Frankenstein, yahorizons

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