This Dark Endeavor

The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein

Oppel, Kenneth

Book - 2011
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
This Dark Endeavor
When his twin brother falls ill in the family's chateau in the independent republic of Geneva in the eighteenth century, sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein embarks on a dangerous and uncertain quest to create the forbidden Elixir of Life described in an ancient text in the family's secret Biblioteka Obscura.

Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9781442403154
Characteristics: 298 p. ;,22 cm.


From Library Staff

List - JoCoLibraryPRL 10114 by: JoCoLibraryPRL Jun 22, 2014

Added by JCLBethanyT.

List - JoCoLibraryPRL 10087 by: JoCoLibraryPRL Apr 13, 2014

Added by JCLBethanyT.

In this prequel to
Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein is on a dark quest to save his twin’s life. With help
from his best friend Henry and his lovely cousin Elizabeth, the three go on a quest to
concoct the mythical Elixir of Life. How far is he willing to go to save his twin?

Based on Frankenstein.

From the critics

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Aug 16, 2014

“This Dark Endeavour” stars Victor Frankenstein, a sixteen year old aristocrat from Geneva, Switzerland. When Victor’s twin brother Konrad falls ill with a mysterious sickness, Victor sets off to create a cure. Victor enlists the help of his extremely distant cousin Elizabeth, his friend Henry, and an alchemist named Julius Polidori.

This novel is meant to tell the tale of the early years of Doctor Frankenstein, the scientist that created the monster from Mary Shelley’s beloved “Frankenstein”. However, all it manages to do is bore audiences. While the author has made a wonderful attempt at adding in plot twists and interesting, daring adventures, it has not worked in his favor. The end result was a dull, predictable novel that does not capture the attention of readers. The characters, for the most part, are likeable. However, they are terribly clichéd. Henry is the weak, artistic best friend and wing man. Elizabeth is the raging, outspoken female character. Victor is the rather whiny and brooding main character who constantly falls in the shadow of his much-better-in-every-way brother Konrad. There is an unnecessary and uncomfortable love triangle that occurs between Elizabeth, Konrad, and Victor. The setting is rather well written, but does no more than to remind readers that they do not live in a chateau beside a lake. The plot contains many dull moments that tend to drag out for longer than necessary. The action scenes are descriptive and easy to imagine, but are very over the top and unnecessarily over dramatic.

Overall, “This Dark Endeavour” is a relatively plain novel. The author of this review believes it suitable for ages fourteen and up. It is such a shame that this novel was executed so poorly, as a story about the early life of Doctor Frankenstein was a brilliant idea.

Oct 04, 2013

This Dark Endeavour – The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein was written by Kenneth Oppel and originally published in 2011 by Harper Trophy Canada

Most people have heard of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster; if not from Mary Shelley’s book Frankenstein ‘or the Modern Prometheus’, than from one of the many movie adaptations that have been made since the books 1818 release. I was lucky enough to be assigned Frankenstein when I was in University and really enjoyed the book though I really must revisit it since it has been too long and details escape me. When I first heard that Kenneth Oppel was writing a prequel series I knew I had to read it because I love a good origin story. And when is a better time to pick up a gothic thriller than October?

First I want to have a quick chat about the cover. I own the redesigned cover with Victor standing in front of a building which I actually enjoy. I like the choice of font and that the outline of the picture is blurred. The shadowed face looks dark and ominous and everything seems to fits the theme of the book. I also listened to the audiobook; I think the actor did a good job but nothing stood out or wowed me about the performance.

Victor and his identical twin Konrad have always done everything together. With the help of their distant cousin Elizabeth and their friend Henry they put on extravagant plays as well as challenge each other in fencing. They live an easy life in the Chateau Frankenstein nestled in the woods of Geneva. They have had a very loving and liberal upbringing which has shaped their personalities. Konrad is the older twin by only two minutes, but he couldn’t be more different from his twin. He is charming and adored by everyone for his wit and athletic ability. Victor on the other hand is curious by nature with an arrogance that makes him work hard to live up to his brother. When Konrad suddenly falls ill with a strange disease Victor will stop at nothing to help him get better. Doctor after doctor attempt to cure him without success, so when science fails him he turns to the “Bibliotheca Obscura,” the Dark Library buried deep in the castles secret passageways and off limits to them by their father. Searching the many ancient tomes he comes across a recipe for the “Elixir for life.” He seeks the help of the shunned alchemist Polidori to interpret the strange alphabet, and his friends to help find the obscure ingredients necessary to save his brothers life before it’s too late.

This book grabbed my attention from the very beginning as almost immediately lives are put in danger. After being sucked in you won’t be able to put the book down because there is action, adventure and creepiness in every chapter. This book stays true to its source material as it is gothic and gritty and just plain good.

There is something about Victor that makes you feel for him and wins you over. Even though he is arrogant and often jealous of his brother, he is at the same time charming and passionate about everything he does. He definitely has a weakness and vulnerability when it comes to his brother, and will make great sacrifices to ensure his safety. Even going against his father’s wishes when he tells him, “You must abandon this dark endeavour” Throughout the book you can also start to see the dark side of Victor, and knowing the eventual path he takes to becoming an evil genius this is not surprising.

I enjoyed the book and finished it very quickly because I needed to find out what was going to happen in the end especially after hearing from others that the ending was gory and gross. I will definitely be checking out the second book called Such Wicked Intent soon to find out what happens next. I also think that I will be picking up Frankenstein again shortly. If you haven’t read this yet you should to. It’s a classic for a reason

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Sep 27, 2013
  • mvkramer rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

I must confess, I thought this book would be more exciting. It was actually pretty tame -- until about the last five chapters when it suddenly ramped up in tension, adn then abruptly ended. The true interest of this book comes from the relationship between Victor and Konrad: Victor envies his brother and feels bad about it, admires him, yet resents him, wants what he has but can't get it -- it's a great set-up.

Sep 09, 2013
  • Khekabeka rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Canadian Author, that should be enough to get your interest. What a tale, what an ending this certainly does fit well with the original story and how it all could have happened. He was 16 when it all started, what were you doing and worried about at 16? Could you have succuessfully gone through what he did and come out sane?

Sep 03, 2013

""With a delicious mix of science, history, and horror" (Publishers Weekly), This Dark Endeavor reinvents Victor Frankenstein as an arrogant, volatile 16-year-old who is intensely jealous and yet quite protective of his twin brother, Konrad. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor searches the family's secret library for a cure, finds a description of the forbidden Elixir of Life in an ancient text, and embarks on a dangerous quest to obtain its ingredients. Primarily Gothic in tone but injected with fiery action scenes and splashes of gore, this riveting tale of brotherly love is a good pick for fans of Rick Yancey's Monstrumologist series." September 2013 Teen Scene newsletter

Aug 27, 2013
  • kiko34 rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Didn't really like this book it was too old fashioned

Aug 13, 2013
  • Jenna_Lambert rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This Dark Endeavour, written by Canadian writer Kenneth Oppel, is set back in the time before the tales of Frankenstein. This is because 16-year-old Victor is Dr. Frankenstein-he just hasn’t yet created his famous monster: the book takes place in the days of Frankenstein’s youth.

In this book, there are three main characters. Victor, a somewhat conceded and selfish fellow, who does good only in hopes that he will be praised, and who tends to think a little madly at times. True, he is quite stuck up and rude, but he has a side of him that you can’t help but like. He has always lived in the shadow of his twin brother Konrad, a smart, charming, and thoughtful version of himself. One of the things Victor despises about Konrad is that he managed to catch their cousin Elizabeth’s heart, when Victor had been hoping to steal it for himself. Elizabeth is a fiery girl who moved into the Frankenstein manor when she was young, and believes that all women are equal to men and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.

The plot is adventurous and fast-paced, beginning when Konrad falls ill to some unknown sickness with no clear cure. That is, until Victor comes across a story about an old alchemist who says there is a cure-an Elixir of Life. The problem is, alchemy is forbidden in the Frankenstein house. Still, knowing that it is the only way to save his brother, Victor sets out with Elizabeth and their family friend Henry to find the alchemist and create the potion they so desire.

I found that I enjoyed this book greatly. Kenneth Oppel uses enough description that the reader isn’t too overwhelmed, but can clearly imagine everything that is taking place. It was easy to feel sympathy towards Victor, as he was constantly put below his sibling. There were also points where he was very heroic, even to the point that he had part of himself taken in order to help his brother. It was also very interesting how Oppel managed to intertwine the old Frankenstein story, showing small signs of madness in Victor that would soon lead into the story we all know so well.

There isn’t much of anything negative I can say about the book, however there are a few violent scenes. I’m not normally the one to be queasy in a grotesque scene, but there was one section that had my stomach turning. Either than that, I would greatly recommend this book, and I will definitely be reading the sequel, plus more of Oppel’s work!

Aug 03, 2013
  • Legomyeggo33 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

It is such a great book!
The characters were well portrayed and the plot was interesting.

Jul 13, 2013
  • Kristen Merke rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Loved it! At first I found it a bit curious and strange, but perhaps that's what kept me going. I found myself wanting to know every detail of the elixir and what was to come of it. Definitely worth the read. On top of that I usually hate romantic plots in books if it's not the main focus and I thought it worked perfectly in this story.

Jun 29, 2013

This is amazingly good. It does not try to be a rewrite of "Frankenstein" but instead explores the teen years of the man who will eventually become Dr. Frankenstein, and looks at the type of experiences that would drive someone to become a mad scientist who tries to reanimate the dead. There is a bit of romance, a bit of action, and is really well-written.

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Jul 24, 2013
  • blue_zebra_421 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

blue_zebra_421 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 13, 2013
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Mar 12, 2013
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Mar 07, 2013
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Sep 03, 2012
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Jun 11, 2012
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May 11, 2014

"It's a terrible thing," I said, "to be crippled in the prime of one's life."

"You've sprained your ankle,"

Aug 03, 2013
  • Legomyeggo33 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

'"Your beauty makes the sunset itself pause," I said, "so it can behold you but a second longer."'

Page 215

Aug 03, 2013
  • Legomyeggo33 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

'"Around her I feel like a pale, feeble moth. It's all I can do to avoid her flame."'

Page 147


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Sep 27, 2013
  • mvkramer rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Young Victor Frankenstein is a rich and privileged young man, the kind of boy who you might say has everything -- but Victor has always felt second best compared to his twin, Konrad. Victor's perfect life is shaken by two events -- his brother falls terribly ill, and he finds a secret room at the heart of his house, the laboratory of an alchemist ancestor. Although Victor promises his father that he won't go back, he suspects that only alchemy will save his brother's life, and he drags his cousin Elizabeth and his friend Henry into a dangerous quest to make the Elixir of Life. This quest will challenge Victor in body and soul; as he and Elizabeth work together, he finds himself falling in love with her, even though she loves Konrad. Will Victor be able to finish the Elixir and save his brother's life?

Jul 02, 2012
  • owen1261 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

When Victor Frankenstein twin brother (Konrad) gets deathly ill. His father sends for the best doctors in Europe but none of them can cure him. So Victor goes seeking the help of an alchemist to make the elixir of life.


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