Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review; This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 23, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1442403152
ISBN-13: 978-144203154
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Cover: Something about this cover is really alluring to me. I love the back of this guy staring off into the distance and I like that we are spying him through a keyhole. Plus, this is something a guy can carry around just as easily as a girl.
First Sentence: We found the monster on a rocky ledge high above the lake."

Mini-ReviewA deliciously gothic prequel that pays homage to the classic it precedes while weaving an exciting new adventure.


Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures...until the day their adventures turn all too real. 

They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only piques Victor's curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. With their friend Elizabeth, Henry and Victor immediately set out to find assistance from a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula. 
Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrad's life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another.

This Dark Endeavor focuses on a young Victor Frankenstein and his friends that show up in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Breathing new life into the story, it manages to pay respect to the classic while crafting an entirely new story. Filled to the brim with adventure, This Dark Endeavor is an exciting adventure with complex characters and beautifully, if not somewhat stiff, writing.

This Dark Endeavor does not blush at what Victor Frankenstein becomes but rather, it strives to embrace it. To guide the reader through the mind of young Frankenstein as he begins his journey through alchemy that will one day rule his life. I loved that Victor was a rash and sometimes arrogant young man. He knew that he was not as kind hearted as his twin but he also knew that it gave him passion. His connection and contrast with Konrad really helped to define why he was the way he was. He always felt Konrad the favorite, excelling at everything where Victor had to toil tirelessly just to keep up. There were many points in the novel where Victor would mention not liking something but since he's brother didn't complain, it kept him in check.

Young Elizabeth was a nice balance of the twins. She was very religious and had a sweet temperment but something dark and passionate lurked underneath. Depending on which brother she was with, her different personalities wuld come out. Konrad brought the good out of her while Victor brought the fierceness, the passion and sometimes the recklessness.

The adventure and mounting tension was excuted amazingly. Each task the gang was forced to undertake was more treacherous than the last and added to the rising tension. While I appreciated the look into the science and alchemy of the day, I have to say that the last task and what followed was really hard for me to read because of the gory detail. This isn't a bad thing and it was well written but I was forced to skim as I couldn't stomach the detail. I should also mention that while the writing fit well with the tone of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein but it did read a little stiff. It felt like I was reading a modern classic novel (probably because of the time period and manners the characters were forced to follow) and it did hinder my reading at times. However, the tone also added to the delicious Gothic feeling so I understood why it was necessary.

This Dark Endeavor brings us to the beginning of a path we know Victor will continue down. Full of good old adventure and heart-pounding action around every corner, this is a novel that both guys and girls can get behind. Victor's "badness" or passion was delightful and honest and the tone is wonderful Gothic. This Dark Endeavor absolutely compliments its classic while crafting a brand new (and sometimes gruesome) tale that will grab the reader until the last page.


How do you feel about the fact that this book is a prequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein? Does it sound like something you'd enjoy?


  1. It sounds like a book I would devour in one sitting! I just LOVE books like this one :) Can't wait to check it out!
    Great review :) I liked that you were so objective about everything, even tho it might not be your cuppa tea.

  2. wow I hadn't heard of this before! Not sure how I feel about people writing prequels/sequels/tie-ins to classics but this does sound interesting. Thanks for the review!

    The Cait Files

  3. i really really want to read this, i really liked the book frankenstein. thanks for the review!

  4. I haven't read Frankenstein (I know, I know!), but I love the sound of this one. I especially love the cover. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, though not as much as you'd like to. Great review, Amber :D


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