A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Such Wicked Intent is the second book in the riveting horror series about future mad scientist Victor Frankenstein. So expect the creep factor to be high, especially as Victor and friends discover a way into the spirit world to visit Victor's twin, Konrad (who died from illness at the end of This Dark Endeavor). Victor's plans to bring Konrad back to life mix him up with a very malevolent spirit and get him "playing God" by making a creature in hopes that Konrad's spirit can inhabit it. There's a scene of sexual assault (stopped quickly), deaths by drowning and burning, and fighting and flying arrows in the spirit world. A couple of passionate kisses and some addiction issues round out the mature content. Despite the book's horror genre tag, don't expect mindless scares. Through Victor and his friends, readers will find a careful examination of what it means to "play God," feel temptation for power and knowledge, and come to grips with loss. Characters pay the price for their ambition and jealousy.
What's the story?
Victor Frankenstein and his family aren't coping well with the loss of Victor's twin, Konrad. Victor's attempts to cure him with the help of forbidden alchemy were in vain, and he hardly cares that the secret Dark Library is no more; books are burned ceremoniously on the lawn, and the entrance is to be blocked off forever. But one item doesn't burn: a metal box containing instructions for speaking with the dead. Nothing can stop Victor from the temptation to contact his brother, first with the tool he builds and then with the elixir he finds in the house (another hidden gift from 300-year-old Wilhelm Frankenstein) that allows him to leave his body behind and actually be in the family's chateau in the spirit world. It's a world full of secrets, including an intact Dark Library as it once was, an ominous moaning deep below the house, and strange and powerful butterfly spirits -- spirits that Victor discovers could be the key to new life for Konrad. But first he needs a body.
Is it any good?
The one and only complaint about this incredibly satisfying sequel is that maybe a few too many occult themes are in play at once. It's ancient evil reborn meets 300-year-old-ancestor evil meets teens building giant Oujia boards, visiting the dead, and growing humans out of mud like you would a golem. It's a lot. But SUCH WICKED INTENT actually does come together and build to a jaw-dropping, surprise-filled finish.
Victor, Elizabeth, and Henry remain fascinating characters whose baser instincts are enhanced in the spirit world. Their human desires and failings are examined with the kind of care you wouldn't expect from young-adult horror. Here's hoping a much wider range of readers -- beyond those who like things that go bump in the night -- discover this delightfully creepy and intelligent series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the creep factor here. Do you prefer scary reads? What's thrilling about them? Are there times you get too scared? What do you do then?
With The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series, the author is building a backstory of a very famous literary mad scientist. Does knowing what Victor will become make the story resonate more? Would he be as intriguing without knowing?
What did you know about Frankenstein before reading this series? If you haven't read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, might you read it now?
- Author: Kenneth Oppel
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Publication date: August 21, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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