Last week we revealed the trailer for Kenneth Oppel’s Such Wicked Intent, the follow-up to This Dark Endeavour. It’s no secret I love The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein because Oppel has reimagined the teen years of the “mad” doctor and created a young anti-hero as engaging as Damon Salvatore or Cassel Sharp.
At the end of This Dark Endeavour, Victor had just lost his twin brother, Konrad. As Such Wicked Intent opens, the books of the Dark Library lay smoldering in the courtyard of Chateau Frankenstein, and Victor swears off the forbidden sciences he blames for giving him such hope then failing to save his brother. But a single volume remains unburned—a strange metal book with contents claiming to help communicate with the spirit world.
Imagine you’ve just lost the person closest to you. What would you do? Victor’s grief and innate scientific curiosity compels him to use the book. Despite his freshly learned lessons, and Elizabeth’s warnings of damnation, he forges ahead. Certain an entrance to the realm of the dead can be found within Chateau Frankenstein, Victor races toward a reunion—but more than just Konrad may wait within this shifting spirit version of their ancestral home.
Such Wicked Intent is devilishly good—creepy, enthralling, and entertaining. In many trilogies, the second book succumbs to being little more than a bridge—an entire book of Middle—but Such Wicked Intent contains a completely developed story of its own. Think of it as episode two of The Apprenticeship of Young Victor Frankenstein.
I felt this book was quietly about Henry, in the way that a narrator as arrogant as Victor can’t help but not notice the subtle development of his friends. We as readers can look beyond just what Victor sees and read between the lines. Oppel trusts us to be smart enough to do this, and part of what makes Such Wicked Intent so much fun to read is knowing Victor is going to get himself in trouble. He knows he’s going to get in trouble, but he’s doing it anyway.
You’ll get a kick out of watching Victor make poor life decisions, but beneath it all is an intelligent and well-crafted story about the things we do to try to escape pain and the difficulties of dealing with loss. This series set out to illuminate what causes Doctor Frankenstein to embark on his most dark and dangerous endeavor. After going deeper and getting darker with this book, I have to wonder… how close will the final instalment get to the man who builds the monster? Or will Oppel rewrite the story of literature’s most famous mad scientist to end a little less tragically?
Either way, I’ll still be #TeamVictor.