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This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #1)
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This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  9,886 Ratings  ·  1,608 Reviews
Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein and inseparable until Konrad falls gravely ill. In the forbidden Dark Library, Victor finds an ancient formula, and seeks an alchemist to recreate the Elixir of Life. With friends Elizabeth and Henry, he scales highest trees in the Strumwald, dives deepest lake caves, and each sacrifices a body part.
Hardcover, 298 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published August 1st 2011)
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ItsGena If your cover is of a man on the other side of a keyhole, then yes.
Bonnie I would recommend that you read the first, if you haven't started it already. It is an excellent series.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Light, fluffy and completely forgettable.
Don’t miscomprestand me, there’s some diversionary entertainment value here and the pace is pretty perky, but I still reached the end with "what's the point?" swirling in my head causing a nagging itch that the book never scratched. It left me with a mild case of the Mehs. Granted, not a full dose of Meh, but Meh nonetheless.  
Call it Meh-lite.
Now I shan’t go a-bashing as the book committed no major literary felonies. It's just all the pre-release hypi

huh. i had never heard of this kenneth oppel fellow, but i guess he's some big deal in YA publishing. i have so much to learn.

i liked this book very much. but more important than my enjoyment, this is going to be a great book for reluctant boy readers. that's a big problem in the world of educators and librarians: "why won't the boys reeeeead??" and from where i'm standing, i get it. most of the YA stuff is all girls girls girls. and although there are some fantastic books for boys, i have read
Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I don’t often request an advance reading copy of a book. In fact, I’m usually declining ARCs because I’m offered more than I could possibly read. However, when I heard about Oppel’s latest project, a prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, I immediately asked if I could read an advance copy, and I was lucky enough to get it.

I’m a big fan of Oppel’s previous series that began with Airborn. I’m also a fan of the Romantics, like the Shelleys. It’s no coincidence that Percy Jackson is named Percy. S
3.5 stars

I read Scarlett as a teen and I decided it had put me off this prequel/sequel written by someone else business for life. (Really, can you blame me? That book is the worst.) Then they went and made Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story and I could have rage-cried from the whole ’have we learned nothing?!’ of it.

And yet here I am, reviewing a prequel to Frankenstein, and as far as I’m concerned, Kenneth Oppel can have at it because this was good and it really works as a YA complemen
Aug 23, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Most people know my obsession with Frankenstein so I wanted to give This Dark Endeavour a go; since the author Kenneth Oppel calls this a prequel. Victor’s brother Konrad, has fallen ill and no doctor has been able to cure him. Victor’s determination to save his brother has turned to alchemy to find the forbidden Elixir of Life and save his twin brother. With the help of his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and best friend Henry; Victor pushes the boundaries of nature and science in a treacherous sear ...more
Paige  Bookdragon
Oct 28, 2015 marked it as to-read
Shelves: dying-to-have
This was recommended to me because I love Uncle Rick's The Monstrumologist series...

Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“You see, when medicine works, it is blessed science, and when it fails, it is witchcraft. - Polidori”
― Kenneth Oppel, This Dark Endeavor

This book I s a v o r e d.
Kenneth Oppel has such a way with words that I was drawn in right from the beginning. This is a fictional prequel to Mary Shelley’s gothic classic Frankenstein. And because this book was published a few years ago and reviewed many times, I won’t go into too many details. But here is the description of the book from Amazon, just as a
This book is sort of crap, but it does a reasonably good job of hiding the fact most of the time. I'm not really sold on the notion of visiting parts of the life of an old fictional character to fill in the gaps the original author chose to leave to the imagination, to begin with. Frankly I don't see why this book had to be about Victor Frankenstein at all; it could have been the story of any young, remarkable and enterprising boy raised in a well-to-do, enlightened late eighteenth-century Europ ...more
Tracy (Cornerfolds)
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Read more of my reviews at!

Confession: I have never read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I've also never been a huge fan of Frankenstein apart from maybe Young Frankenstein, which I watched way too many times growing up, thanks to my parents. Recently I watched Victor Frankenstein (there's probably a review of that coming soon) and really, really wanted to read more about Frankenstein's story. When I saw the gorgeous cover of This Dark Endeavor and saw that it was a prequel story, I
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was interested in reading this book partially because of the hype. This first I’d ever heard of this title came in the form of an announcement that Summit Films had acquired the screen rights. You can read that here.

I also liked the cover (sorry, it’s a weakness). But you have to admit, it’s just kind of a cover just made to appeal to a bookstalker like me, with a keyhole to peep through and everything. And the plot also appealed to my bookstalking nature…a forbidden library! Yeah! This one ha
Alicia O'Carrick
Sep 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: retellings, steampunk

If he were to get sick again, I would have his cure. I would have the power to bring him back from the dead.

And what else might I have the power to do?

I recently read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, so I decided to read this retelling while the story was still fresh in my memory. I wavered throughout with my feelings, from mild amusement to slight annoyance. This is a book that doesn't generate that much feeling. At the end, it just makes you feel kind of meh.

I will give it props, though. It isn'
Yay for talented Canadian authors.
I will certainly be watching this film.

I have an intense fear of giant birds, water and fish of any size, specifically sharks and prehistoric looking things like this one, and loss of limbs or permanent body mutilation. Thank you Kenneth, for bringing all of my fears together in one place that was so fascinating I will never be able to forget them, unfortunately.

I have read the Airborn series and Darkwing, and Oppel never lets his readers down. All of his advent
Nov 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants a lead-in to Frankenstein
Although I believe Endeavor has promise (and deserves five stars), I will only give it three.

I began the first chapter with some knowledge of Victor Frankenstein already. I'd read about twenty pages of Mary Shelley's version and knew enough about his childhood to recognize a few names.

Of course, Oppel's work is not a true retelling. For instance, the "real" Frankenstein was the oldest of his siblings, and he did not have a twin. However, he did have some characteristics of the Victor we know, in
Aug 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books
Well, this book was certainly interesting....and disturbingly entertaining.

This Dark Endeavor is a sort-off "retelling/prequel" to the famous Frankenstein. We follow Victor Frankenstein, who's trying to find the elixir of life, a cure for his brother's illness.

I really liked the book. It was gripping, had an adventure feel to it, dark and some cringe-worthing scenes. I really liked the story, but the thing that stuck out most to me was the eerie feeling I got from both the setting of the book,
I really loved this book. I'm a huge Frankenstein fan. After reading the synopsis of this book, I decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. The story takes place in young Victor Frankenstein's teenage years. Describing his personality and how he was to become later in life, fascinated with science, transmutation, alchemy, and his personal struggle with if there is a God.

I really loved how this story kept me wanting more. There was danger, adventure, and deception. Also love real genuine
Amelia, the pragmatic idealist
This Dark Endeavor is an incredible book! I don't know where Kenneth Oppel got the idea to write a prequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein starring a teenage version of the eponymous character, but what an ingenious idea!

Truth be told, I never read Frankenstein in high school or college (different track, I guess). Basically, my knowledge of the source material has come from Kenneth Branagh's film version, and Mel Brooks.

Still, even I could recognize the level of detail, skill and panache that K
Brent Hartinger
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I’m rarely disappointed in a book by Ken Oppel, but his latest, This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, may be my favorite yet.

Yes, it’s the story of a teenage Victor Frankenstein, and normally I’m not a fan of these “before they were famous” retellings of classic figures from myth or literature (for that matter, I’m not a big fan of reboots and reimaginings in general). But I’m making an exception in this case, if only because the book is so masterfully plotted and writte
We are unfashioned creatures, but half made up, if one wiser, better, dearer than ourselves — such a friend ought to be — do not lend his aid to perfectionate our weak and faulty natures.


Setting:Geneva, Switzerland; the early 1800s

Coverly Love?:Yes! I love the eeriness of it, with just the man and the big, glooming estate in the background. It gives the reader a sense of the atmosphere in which the novel will be about.

Plot:In this imaginative prequel to Mary Shelley's Gothic classic novel, Fra
Cathy  Keaton
Favorite YA read from 2011.

I love this book SO much, I can't write a deserving review. I can't quite convey all of my emotions. It is so much more than I was expecting it to be, and leads me down two distinct paths. On the one hand, it's magical, adventurous, dramatic, and romantic. And, on the other, terrifying, heart-breaking, and absolutely tragic. I feel almost gutted. It got under my skin and in my head in a way that doesn't normally happen when I read.

I haven't been moved to tears like th
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

this is was ok. I thought it was gonna be a much darker story with Victor spiraling out control. I wanted to see more alchemy, and Victor going batshit crazy but alas that didn't happen. I also didn't like the "love triangle" if you can call it that. I though it was unnecessary and so out of the blue that Victor suddenly found himself in love with Elizabeth ok :/. I did enjoy the writing.
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011-favorites
Originally Reviewed on The Book Smugglers:

“You must abandon this dark endeavor.”

So says Victor’s father, when he learns the truth of his son’s desperate explorations into the heart of darkness. Victor and his identical twin brother, Konrad, have lived a charmed life at Chateau Frankenstein. Doted on by loving parents, treated to a rigorous liberal education, and given the companionship of their adopted distant cousin Elizabeth and neighbor Henry, at fifte
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Kenneth Oppel’s novel This Dark Endeavour was a finalist for Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Awards and it’s no wonder. It’s a terrific book. We’ve been talking about it at school recently as several of my colleagues have read it and think it would make a great addition to the classroom. I agree. The language of the novel is almost old-fashioned, but the action will appeal to boys and the elements of romance will appeal to girls (or vice-versa) making This Dark Endeavour the perfect gateway ...more
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!!!!

This Dark Endeavor moved me to tears. I think I was living under a rock because this is the first book by Kenneth Oppel I ever read. Such an unforgivable sin! I will definitely read more of his book! But, once again, I am very short of words to express how much I love this book because this was absolute perfection!

As a fan of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein myself, I have to say that Oppel blew my mind with this book. He created Victor Frankenstein's early years and
Laurence R.
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Very interesting read, I must admit.

I have to say I haven't read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein yet. I know, I know, I've been meaning to do so, but how many books are there on my TBR so far? A lot, and it's constantly growing, so who knows when I'll be able to read it. However, this book made me even more excited for the novel which inspired it, because from what I know of the original story and what I've read, This Dark Endeavour gives a lot of explanations that are simply not there in Frank
Aurora Dimitre
When I think Gothic YA, I generally assume that it's going to be light. That, while things of consequence may happen, it won't be in a way that makes shivers crawl up my spine, ripping out pieces of skin and vertebrae as they go.

This was not like that.

This follows a young Victor Frankenstein, whose brother has just contracted an illness that, basically, nobody can cure. Victor decides to take things into his own hands, to find his own cure, even if that means using the illegal alchemy to form
Alex Ronk
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hacía varios meses que lo compré, pero no fue hasta este año que lo agregue al book jar para por fin leerlo, una parte de mi no estaba muy segura porque al ser una saga pensé que el final me dejaría con ganas de más y el segundo libro aún no lo tengo... pero afortunadamente el final no me dejo tan picada como para morirme por comprar el siguiente libro, creo que puedo sobrevivir más tiempo :D

También tenía algo de miedo sobre la historia, es decir: Frankenstein, pero de igual modo me sorpendí al
Sarah E
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This Dark Endeavor is a work of literary art. From the cover, to the plot, to the characters; Oppel was spot on! One of a book's most important assets is its cover, and in this case, This Dark Endeavor certainly has bragging rights! Between the handsome character sketch of Victor on the front, to the haunting buildings eclipsed by unsettle clouds and the blurred edges; I do believe I was completely enthralled with this book before I even read the first page. Having read Kenneth Oppel's previous ...more
Oct 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read Frankenstein last year and had a hard time enjoying it. (You can see my Classic Tuesdays review for it here.) One of my big problems with Mary Shelley's masterpiece was Victor himself. I couldn't stand him. He was boring and whiny. When I started This Dark Endeavor, I figured it would also be a really slow book, with not-so-great characters. This was not the case. I still could not stand Victor but, there was something about him as a teenager that not only made me laugh, but it kept me in ...more
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
My knowledge of Frankenstein is pretty much limited to the Boris Karloff movie which I had to watch like 600 times for this motion picture class where it was our main focus/comparison film and bits and pieces of the movie Young Frankenstein. I haven’t read the original source, yet. After picking up This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel, I just may try Mary Shelley’s classic.

Read the rest of my review here
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I was born in 1967 in Port Alberni, a mill town on Vancouver Island, British Columbia but spent the bulk of my childhood in Victoria, B.C. and on the opposite coast, in Halifax, Nova Scotia...At around twelve I decided I wanted to be a writer (this came after deciding I wanted to be a scientist, and then an architect). I started out writing sci-fi epics (my Star Wars phase) then went on to swords ...more
More about Kenneth Oppel...

Other Books in the Series

The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein (2 books)
  • Such Wicked Intent (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #2)

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“There is a passion in you that scares me.” 35 likes
“The preface? Why would he waste time with the preface? Skip the preface and move on to the meat of the thing!” 21 likes
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