This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship Of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth OppelThis Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship Of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship Of Victor Frankenstein

byKenneth Oppel

Hardcover | August 22, 2011

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2011 Governor General's Literary Awards Finalist - Children's Literature (Text)

Victor Frankenstein leads a charmed life. He and his twin brother, Konrad, and their beautiful cousin Elizabeth take lessons at home and spend their spare time fencing and horseback riding. Along with their friend Henry, they have explored all the hidden passageways and secret rooms of the palatial Frankenstein chateau. Except one.

The Dark Library contains ancient tomes written in strange languages and filled with forbidden knowledge. Their father makes them promise never to visit the library, but when Konrad becomes deathly ill, Victor knows he must find the book that contains the recipe for the legendary Elixir of Life.

The elixir needs only three ingredients. But impossible odds, dangerous alchemy and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn.

Victor knows he must not fail. Yet his success depends on how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science and love-and how much he is willing to sacrifice.

KENNETH OPPEL is the Governor General's Award-winning author of the Airborn series and the Silverwing Saga, which has sold over a million copies worldwide. His most recent novels areHalf Brother, winner of both the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award and the Young Adult Book Award;This Dark Endeavour, final...
Title:This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship Of Victor FrankensteinFormat:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 8.75 × 5.75 × 1 inPublished:August 22, 2011Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers LtdLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1554683394

ISBN - 13:9781554683390


Rated 4 out of 5 by from a YA novel to sink your teeth into 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 drug to introduce students to classic novels like, well, Frankenstein. Sixteen – year – old Victor Frankstein lives with his twin brother, Konrad, younger siblings and parents in a chateau in Bellerive on Lake Geneva. They also share their home with their cousin, Elizabeth. Their friend Henry also spends a great deal of time at the chateau. They four teenagers spend their time riding, boating, studying and exploring the centuries old chateau. One day, the foursome discover a narrow passage behind a bookshelf and upon further investigation, a door with the greeting “enter only with a friend’s welcome.” Upon gaining entry, they find “tables scattered with oddly shaped glassware and metal instruments – and row upon row of shelves groaning with thick tomes.” When the young people are discovered by Konrad and Victor’s father he says, “You’ve discovered the Biblioteka Obscura I see.” Mr. Frankenstein is a local magistrate, a powerful and intelligent man who encourages his children’s intellectual pursuits but is none too happy about their discovery of this Dark Library. "You must understand that these books were written centuries ago. They are primitive attempts to explain the world. There are some shards of learning in them, but compared to our modern knowledge they are like childish dreams….This is not knowledge….It is a corruption of knowledge and these books are not to be read." But when Konrad falls seriously ill, Victor returns to the Dark Library looking for a cure and This Dark Endeavour ramps up the fun. Victor, Elizabeth and Henry try to gather the ingredients for the Elixir of Life in the hopes that its mystical properties will restore Konrad’s good health and their quest is what propels the plot forward. It’s exciting and dangerous work, but Victor is a character readers will easily root for – even though he is hot-tempered and sometimes struggles to do the right thing – especially where it concerns Elizabeth. Careful readers will spot some of the literary shout-outs embedded in the novel. For example, Victor seeks the help of Dr. Polidori who was, in fact, a real physician and writer ( 1795 – 1821), consort of Lord Byron and credited with writing the first vampire story, “The Vampyre.” Dr. Polidori lives on Wollstonekraft Alley. Fans of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein might recognize Wollstonekraft as Shelley’s mother’s name. Wollstonekraft (1759 – 1797) was a writer and feminist, well-known for her work A Vindication of the Rights of Women. It’s references like these which would make This Dark Endeavour such a great book for the classroom.
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pleasantly surprised! How can you go wrong with a story about young Victor Frankenstein! The author takes you on a journey to explore the reason behind Frankenstein's gruesome obsession. I would've liked the story to delve a bit deeper but a good read.
Date published: 2012-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Reminiscent of Harry Potter, with a touch of alchemy & sense of adventure! A sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein spends his privileged life being home-schooled with his twin brother Konrad and cousin Elizabeth. Often accompanied by their family friend Henry, the foursome spend their days playing and exploring around the Frankenstein estate when not learning from their father. When Konrad suddenly falls seriously ill, the remaining three companions stumble upon an old library full of strange languages and recipes. They are convinced that if they manage to figure out how to concoct the Elixir of Life, it will save their friend. The trio must race against time and danger to gather the only 3 ingredients required, before it’s too late for Konrad. This book has so much of what I love that I’m kicking myself for how long it took me to get to it. A touch of alchemy with a dash of action and adventure, this book was reminiscent of Harry Potter if Harry & the gang were a rebellious trouble-making bunch. (Well, I guess that can be debatable…) There were so many moments in This Dark Endeavour that brought back great memories of the J.K. Rowling series, from the 2-guys, 1 girl dynamic to the strange creatures and alchemy “magic” that are encountered. There is that same sense of peril & mystery-solving in a more-than-meets-the-eye kind of world. The depiction of the brother dynamic was also really well executed. The love/hate relationship that Victor and Konrad have with each other feels so real. Whether it’s competing with one another to intense jealousy to unrequited brotherly love, anyone with a sibling, let alone a twin, can attest to having at least some of those emotions about each other at some point. I felt this sibling love/rivalry that Oppel described was so well played where siblings can be angry and fight about anything but as soon as something jeopardizes that, blood always comes first. Another major topic of This Dark Endeavour was the debate between science vs faith, which I likened to the long-running theme on Lost. With Victor’s desire to find a solution rooted in alchemy to cure his brother, Elizabeth was equally as passionate in praying for Konrad’s health at mass. Oppel lays out both arguments in a fair manner, not necessarily leaning towards one way or the other which allows the reader to take from it what they will. Rather than make a potentially controversial declaration that one was more correct than the other, Oppel shows the highs and lows of both sides. Once again, drawing from another literary source comparison, I loved that this was a backstory to a pre-existing, well-known tale. I thought of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, where everyone thinks they know the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, but Maguire illustrates so much more depth and history to Elphaba. Oppel achieves the same effect with this book, giving new life and backstory to the man who eventually creates Frankenstein’s monster. A fantastic beginning to an edge-of-your-seat series that will leave readers gasping with shock and crying out in surprise. This, and other reviews can be found on my blog
Date published: 2012-08-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A great book for boys! This and other reviews can be found on Cover Impressions: I love the dark feel of this cover. The scratched keyhole and the black on black outfit are contrasted against the blue sky as Victor Frankenstein takes his first steps on the road toward his destiny. On the back, as if scratched into the dark wood, is the line: "There is a passion in you that scares me". Which perfectly sums up the conflicting feelings that Elizabeth and I share of Victor's character. The Gist: Years before the events that were recorded in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, Victor lived his days in peaceful playtime with his brother Konrad, cousin Elizabeth, and dear family friend Henry. While exploring, they stumble upon a hidden Biblioteka Obscura: The Dark Library. It is full of strange books condemned by both the church, and Victor's father. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor decides to use these materials to find a cure and sends himself and his friends on a perilous journey into the heart of Alchemy. Review: I haven't read any other Kenneth Oppel books (although I do stock some in my classroom library) but, when I read about a prequel to Frankenstein, I knew I had to get my hands on this one. I love modern takes on classic novels, especially when they aren't trying to re-tell the same story but are using it as literary fodder for their own dark imagination. I was particularly hoping for a book that would appeal to teen boys and I was not disappointed. This Dark Endeavour is full of mystery and excitement. It was one of those page-turning books where I found myself thinking "one more chapter and then I will go to bed" until I had turned the last page and stayed up far past my bedtime. The characters are a little one dimensional, but enjoyable. I cheered along as Elizabeth asserted herself and laughed at Henry's myriad of fears. Konrad was just a perfect enough to dislike and I reveled in Victor's first, tentative steps into villainy. It is interesting to watch the dichotomy between the boys and I was left wondering if this is a case of the "good" twin and the "evil" twin. Oppel's pacing is spot on. There is absolutely no lag in the story and the excitement builds quickly. There are many action scenes and they demand the readers attention in a way that I know appeals particularly to young boys. In order to truly enjoy this novel, the reader does have to suspend disbelief in the fact that everything the characters need to acquire in their quest is within walking (or riding) distance and that some information comes a little too quickly and conveniently. While this book will not change your life, it will provide a few pleasant hours and, perhaps, the catalyst to explore the original Frankenstein further. I am excited to place this novel in my classroom and into the hands of those boys who crave adventure stories. Teaching/Parental Notes: Age: 12 and up Gender: Either Sex: None Violence: Amputation of fingers, violent death to animals Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: None
Date published: 2012-04-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Can't wait for the movie . .. I enjoyed the book and am excited for the film coming out which will be directed by Matt Reeves.
Date published: 2012-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from captured me from the first sentence I initially decided against buying this book since I wasn't all that interested in any Frankenstein, but I'm so glad I did. Kenneth Oppel does a great job setting the scene and mood of the story, and the characters were reminiscent of historically prominent eras. The love Victor has for his brother, Konrad was voiced perfectly. In fact, the choice of words in this book was really sophisticated; completely different from classic teen books. There were many scenes that made my heart race, and I honestly couldn't put this one down. The topic of alchemy is controversial in this storyline, and I couldn't help but notice that some things that occured in this book would seem silly nowadays. However, I'm glad that this was set in a different time because it helped me see ideas that were unusual to me, and I wouldn't be able to relate to it. Eveything was a completely new concept, and I enjoyed every page of it. Although it was a bit on the short side, I'm glad there'll be a sequel. I'm impatiently waiting for its arrival.
Date published: 2012-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Darkly twisted but very addictive I have been going back through and tracking down all of Oppel's older books and reading them. This is his newest and it blew me away. It had a dark edge I have not seen in Oppel's writing before. The story is amazing and leaves you desperate for more. Summary: It is the story of the Frankenstein brothers, Victor and Konrad. They are the closest of brothers and as they have grown up in the Frankenstein manor, they have lived a life of privilege and adventures, both real and imaginary. But then as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end. After they stumble upon a hidden library, a library of the dark arts, their life takes a turn for the worse. Soon Konrad has fallen ill, and Victor, their friend Henry, and Elizabeth, a distant relative who was raised in the Frankenstein household, embark on a dark and dangerous journey to discover the Elixir of Life. As the friends risk life and limb to save Konrad, a dark secret is growing in Victor's heart. This story is very well written; it is a study into the hearts and minds of a group of people. It looks at not only what they do, but why they do it. It also touches upon how twins have a bond, and as we read, the story and characters become real. There is such craft in the writing of this book you will become lost in the pages and the story will stay with you for a long time after reading it. The book is impossible to put down, and even after you finish it, you find yourself desperate for book two.
Date published: 2012-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mary Shelley Would be PROUD! As a prequel to "Frankenstein", one of mine and many people's favourite stories, I was initially hesitant to read this book, but found myself ecstatic that I did. Kenneth Oppel has done a miraculous job of encompassing all the elements of dark, dramatic, and romantic Victorian literature, and the very essence of mystery, horror, and adventure of Mary Shelley's timeless classic. This novel paints the perfect picture of the triumphs and growth, and defeats and decline, of her tragic hero's youth, all unique to Oppel and yet true to Shelley. If you are a fan of the classic novel, you will not be disappointed by this achingly perfect prequel.
Date published: 2012-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW! I'm so glad I had decided last minute to read this book. Fantastic suspense/horror and just a pinch of romance made this book worth reading! I recommend this book to everyone! I'm going to go read the classic Frankenstein now. :)
Date published: 2011-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ABSOLUTELY GREAAT! Very good book! :)
Date published: 2011-10-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Entertaining I admit that I have tried to read Frankenstein and have never managed to sit down and read the whole book through. After reading this one, however, I think I may actually get through it. This book is very entertaining, I can't comment too much on how the characters and setting play out in regards to Frankenstein, as per my original comment, but I can say that the author did a great job. By itself, this book was a great read. The pace of the story moved along, the characters were really believable. You could almost say that there could be a sequel if you didn't realize that this book was marketed as a prequel. Overall I would recommend this book, it's marketed as Teen Fiction but would appeal to readers of all ages.
Date published: 2011-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from absolutely amazing! 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 books! Because I am very short of words to express how much I love This Dark Endeavor. This book was absolute perfection! As a fan of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein myself, I have to say that Oppel blew my mind with this book. Oppel created Victor Frankenstein's early years and illustrated the reasons and facts that lead young Victor to become the famous Dr. Frankenstein. Oppel is a genius expressing characters' emotions. We can easily see the complex psychology of Victor and understand what makes him the way he is. Victor's reasons to search of the Elixir of Life are the complex collision of his devoted brotherly love and his jealousy. The young Victor Frankenstein we meet at the beginning of the book is just a kid with complexes and insecurities that push him onto the road of obsession for triumph. To find a cure for his severely sick identical twin is the original seed that motivates Victor to create the Elixir of Life, and to prove himself and others that he is better than his perfect twin as well as jealousy and the love for a girl who does not reciprocate his feelings, are the fuel to Victor's veins that nourishes his obsession. But regardless all this mix of feelings, it is Victor's infinite love for his brother that moved me to tears. Science and Faith are both equally strong points of This Dark Endeavor. How people deal with what they want and how people deal with pain. I really love this aspect of the book because, according to me, it doesn't separate Science and Faith into 100% different categories as we usually tempt to do. In this case, it is not always a matter of Science or Faith, but Science and Faith working altogether. Devotion, love and sacrifice are only the tip of the iceberg. Kenneth Oppel teaches us a life lesson through Victor's experience. Love and despair could lead to recklessness. Recklessness and selfish motives lead to guilt. So much I would like to say, but I cannot do that without giving anything away. Oppel's writing style is beautiful and poetic. It warmed my heart to read some of Victor's beautiful thoughts and it also gave me chills to read others (yes, there are some scary and creepy parts! love them!). The setting is beautifully shaped! A centuries old Castle in Geneve with an ancient dark library, near a river and with beautiful sunsets everyday. Kenneth Oppel gave me the place of my dreams! I would like to say so much more about everything this book gave me, but I think I already said too much. I want you to get This Dark Endeavor and read it. This is the kind of book you could recommend to everyone! doesn't matter the age or taste, and I am sure This Dark Endeavor will absolutely be a bright spot in your life.
Date published: 2011-09-02

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