This Dark Endeavour

This Dark Endeavour - Kenneth Oppel 2.5 stars. I'd deem this story "okay". It wasn't bad, but I expected more of it, and it didn't leave me with a sense of completion, although I wish it had. There are lots of good ideas in this book, that didn't work for me, the way they were exploited, and it's really too bad.

Lots of potential, indeed. For instance, the beginning that hints at a darker side in the two brothers' relationships. Or the love triangle that could've become something really interesting, something that could have seriously thwarted Victor's motivations. Unfortunately, I think the author didn't go deep enough with those—perhaps because really going through with them to the end would've been too dark for a YA audience? I don't know. Things felt a little weird in that regard, as if in style and themes, the book was aiming at the older part of the intended audience, yet didn't dare to go there in the end, and remained a little too "light", for the sake of the younger ones.

The love triangle also fell flat in general, in my opinion, and more childish than the dark and tragic affair it could've been (or than what I expected from the blurb on the back cover). Victor's love would've had more impact for me if it had been there from the beginning, and not apparently triggered at the moment he learnt Konrad loved the girl too. Elizabeth was a character I enjoyed, showing a lot of pluck and decision-making. This may be the reason why I also disliked the way Konrad treated her, as if he was only looking at her, and not "seeing" her for who she was. In itself, this could've added to the tragedy of that relationship, but felt a little wobbly instead. This said, to be fair, I'm not too attracted by love triangles in general, so I'm pretty picky about those anyway.

Finally, I would've liked the ending to be just a tad less abrupt. It was a necessary ending—it couldn't have been otherwise—but it came a little too quickly. I guess I would've liked some kind of explanation, even a non-scientific one, as to how exactly the tables turned so fast.

What I appreciated, though, was how "This Dark Endeavour" paved the way for Shelley's story, and could likely bring more people to read that one—which really deserves to be read no matter what. Maybe this is the reason why I couldn't be so enthralled with the book: because I already know the original masterpiece, and because for me, the stories don't play on the same level. Nevertheless, this novel could be a good introduction to its predecessor for younger readers.