Young Victor Frankenstein is devastated by the loss of his twin brother Konrad. Especially since Victor isn’t certain he didn’t help speed Konrad along to the grave. So when Victor finds a spirit board, he’s eager to contact his brother’s spirit and absolve himself. Following clues from the spirit board and a painting of a mysterious ancestor, Victor, along with loyal comrades Elizabeth and Henry, are drawn into another world. Literally. The trio enter the spirit world, where they find Konrad and many new mysteries. Will they be able to bring Konrad home with them? Will they discover what’s going on in the cave discovered below their home? Will they be killed by a swarm of butterflies? Read the book to find these answers, plus many more.
Once again, Kenneth Oppel is brilliant at creating realistic characters. Victor Frankenstein is arrogant, reckless, stubborn, and not a little selfish. But his grief and guilt over his brother are genuine, as are his bravery, loyalty, and endless curiosity. You can easily see how when Victor stumbles across these mysteries, he’s compelled and driven (by a variety of factors, not all of which are noble) to follow their dark paths as far as he can. Mr. Oppel paints of clear picture of the type of person Victor is and how his actions will eventually lead to him becoming THE Victor Frankenstein. It’s more than a little chilling, watching it unfold. Especially since the fear I had after reading the first book, that Victor’s beloved brother will be the one who ends up becoming “Frankenstein’s Monster,” becomes a more and more distinct possibility.
The first book of this series had a steampunk feel without ever straying into real sci-fi or fantasy territory. This second book, however, is a straight up gothic horror/ghost story, with things going on that can only be explained by magic/other worldly-ness. It will be very interesting to see where Mr. Oppel takes the third book, both plot and tone wise.
The audiobook reader/narrator continues to be excellent, delivering a nuanced performance that allowed me to pick up on things I might have missed in the written format. Plus, the whole audoibook thing lets me “read” at work, where I would otherwise be deeply, deeply bored. But I don’t have to deal with the public, so that’s nice, right?