Frightful Friday: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

August 19, 2011 Frightful Friday, Horror, Review, Simon & Schuster, YA 6

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. Feel free to grab the button & join in!

This week’s featured book is: This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel.


  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Hardcover:304 pages
  • Publisher:Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing (August 23, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1442403152
  • Source: Publisher

Victor and Konrad Frankenstein are twins brothers and close companions.  Their life is full of adventure.  One day, while exploring, they uncover The Dark Library, full of books on alchemy and “witchcraft.”  Their father forbids them from entering it again; years ago he was responsible for outlawing the practice of alchemy.

When Konrad falls ill and the doctor’s efforts seem hopeless, Victor must do something to help. His night is ridden with dreams of Konrad’s death:

Konrad was dead and laid out in his coffin, teh hue of bodily corruption already on his flesh.  I stood at his head, peering down at him.  Behind me I could hear the weeping of my family. A huge fury stirred inside me.

And suddenly the coffin was no longer a coffin but a laboratory table. 

Over Konrad’s body I spoke words of power, and applied unguents and strange machines to his limbs, his chest, his skull.

And then I gave a great cry, and energy erupted from within me and arced like lightning from my body to his.

His hand twitched. His head stirred. His eyes opened and looked at me.


With the aid of his cousin Elizabeth and his best friend, Henry, Victor tracks down a man known to be able to produce the forbidden Elixir of Life. The trio must risk life and limb to obtain the ingredients necessary to create the elixir. Will the elixir really work and will their efforts help heal dear Konrad before it’s too late?

This Dark Endeavor is a stunning glimpse behind the motivations of Victor Frankenstein, the man who matures to become the doctor responsible for creating the monster in the classic Frankenstein  by Mary Shelley.  While it took me a bit to get into the book, ultimately the portrayal of young Victor Frankenstein is what drew me in.  The reader gets a glimpse of his obsession with alchemy, his love/hate relationship with his brother Victor, and his fondness of his cousin, Elizabeth.

Characterization is strong in this book.  Victor, obviously, is an incredibly headstrong individual, but it was Elizabeth’s character that impressed me.  She was an incredibly strong individual as well, a trait I believe young women will appreciate.

This Dark Endeavor serves as quite the appealing prequel to one of my favorite classics. It is my hope that youth discover This Dark Endeavor and then move on to discover the wonderful and powerful Frankenstein!  Highly recommended!

6 Responses to “Frightful Friday: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel”

  1. Beth S.
    Twitter: FoodieBooklvr

    This would not normally be my type of book but I love Kenneth Oppel so I’m actually looking forward to this one.

  2. Pam

    Oh man, I really want to read this. I’ve only recently heard about it. I seriously have to get my hands on it. Thanks for the review!

  3. Jennifer | Book Den
    Twitter: bookden

    I love the premise. I’ve challenged myself to read Frankenstein by the end of this year. It might be fun to read this one, too.

  4. alisonwonderland
    Twitter: utahalison

    I finished ‘Frankenstein’ this morning – so this would be an appropriate additional to the to-read pile, wouldn’t it? 🙂

  5. Lynne Perednia
    Twitter: Perednia

    Oppel is very good at strong female characters. Glad this book turned out well; thanks so much for the heads-up about it.