Book Review- This dark endeavour : the apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

Most people know of Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein, but in This Dark Endeavor: the Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, Kenneth Oppel adds a prologue detailing the rise of young Victor Frankenstein.  I absolutely devoured this fresh angle to this familiar story, and have no doubt that Oppel’s novel has renewed interest in the classic Frankenstein.

To summarize: Victor and Konrad Frankenstein have led a privileged life growing up in the Frankenstein castle. However, their lives abruptly change when Konrad mysteriously falls ill. By surprise, they stumble upon The Dark Library containing secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies. Although forbidden to access, Victor is determined to aid his brother with an ancient formula called the Elixir of Life.  However, Victor, Elizabeth (cousin and love interest of both twins), and Henry (friend) require help to create the formula and enlist the assistance in a man known for his alchemical works.  The book follows the group as they set upon on a fearless quest for the three ingredients.

Why I loved this book:

– There is a little bit of everything: magic, adventure, drama, romance to appeal to wide range of readers (including reluctant boy readers). It is a fast paced, edge of your seat story!

-Even if readers haven’t read the classic Frankenstein, they can still follow the story. It’s a great introduction to the classic, and as mentioned, it will likely persuade individuals to pick up Frankenstein for the first time.

-Oppel’s writing. This book is fantastically written.  I applause authors that can create an arrogant, egotistical, reckless character, yet still have the readers root for him.

– I enjoyed the hints at Victor’s future. For example, on page 204, he awakes from a dream in which Konrad is revived from the dead.  I don’t want to give too much away, but on the last page of the book, Victor (despite warnings) vows that he is not done with alchemy.

Interesting fact: This Dark Endeavor is soon to be a major motion picture!

Other Reviews:

“Oppel’s novel is a gripping tale of undying devotion, mixing hope with foreboding.”—The Horn Book

“Oppel’s tale is melodramatic, exciting, disquieting…a delicious mix.”—Publisher’s Weekly

“Brash, jealous, and arrogant, Victor is sweet relief from today’s introspective YA protagonists, and one can easily visualize how this teen becomes the mad genius of Shelley’s Frankenstein.”—Booklist

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