Such Wicked Intent: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, Book 2
By Carrie R. Wheadon,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Wicked creepy, wicked good horror sequel.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Like the first in the series, the sequel will definitely get kids interested in the classic Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. There are also plenty of similarities between the ancient painted caves and burial site found below the Frankenstein family's chateau and real finds in France and elsewhere (minus some of the monstrous details, of course). There's also some discussion of the biblical account of Jesus resurrecting Lazarus.
This is a cautionary tale about the danger in humans trying to "play God" by fabricating life. It also exposes the perils of blind ambition and jealousy, and shows the characters paying the price for both.
Positive Role Models
Victor is well aware that some of his ambition to get to the spirit world is to save his brother, while the rest is for his own gain. He does plenty of dangerous things for as many good reasons as selfish, petty, and jealous ones. In the end, though, he's willing to make a surprisingly big sacrifice to set things right. Elizabeth used to be the voice of restraint in Victor's crazy plans; in Such Wicked Intent, she's almost as carried away with Victor's ideas as he is. Their friend Henry gains more confidence in himself and discovers his own strength by book's end.
Violence & Scariness
In one scene, Elizabeth is forced down by a would-be rapist, but clothes don't come off, and the attacker is stopped. Bloodshed is lower than the creep factor; there are some sword and fist fights, a drowning after an attack, a creature burning to death, arrows unleashed in a chase scene and attack, and one spirit consuming another. Abundant scares include trips to the spirit world, where a malevolent spirit moans in the basement (and is later seen as a grotesque small creature), and more spirits bang on the windows trying to get in. A giant Ouija board sends an ominous message, and the soulless mud creature created by Victor is growing daily, unpredictable, and very creepy.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some passionate kisses and a few scenes of nonsexual nakedness.
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"Ass" a couple of times, "bloody," and "damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults have wine at dinner. A doctor gives Victor an opiate to help him sleep. Victor gets more addicted to creatures in the spirit world that are giving him knowledge and feelings of power, but at a price. Elizabeth and Henry confront him about it and try to persuade him to stay away from the creatures.
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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.
Where to Read
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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: July 12, 2017
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