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This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein Hardcover – August 23, 2011

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This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein + Such Wicked Intent: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, Book Two
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Download an exclusive reader's group guide and letter from author Kenneth Oppel [PDF].

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
  • Series: Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781442403154
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442403154
  • ASIN: 1442403152
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #957,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Oppel has reinvented the gothic thriller for modern readers. The narrative crackles with tension, emotions run high, and the atmosphere is perfectly dark and brooding. The Shelleys would be proud. I definitely recommend you check out the book when it's published August 23. I anticipate This Dark Endeavor will get a lot of attention, and rightly so."--Rick Riordan

"Oppel’s novel is a gripping tale of undying devotion, mixing hope with foreboding."—The Horn Book in a STARRED review

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

"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

"Oppel grapples with the human duality of animal and soul in ways that recall (but don’t repeat) Shelley’s similar thematic explorations as he revitalizes the classic horror tale for a new generation."--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, STARRED review

This Dark Endeavor may renew interest in Frankenstein, but it also stands alone as an original and welcome addition to the world of young-adult fiction.”—Kelley Armstrong, author of the Darkest Power series

"A dark and dramatic back story for Shelley’s tormented creator."--Kirkus Reviews

"Sharp readers will find allusions to Mary Shelley, her literary circle, and classic horror films; for those simply wanting a good story with plenty of action, this book will not disappoint."--School Library Journal

"The action and suspense begin on page one and let up very little in this excellent work of gothic science fiction."--VOYA

“Adventures do not come more thrilling, gorgeously written or absorbing than this.”

The London Times

A London Times Best Children's Book of 2011:

"Kenneth Oppel's This Dark Endeavour is a captivating Gothic novel.... Books this good are for life, not just Christmas."

"This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth a brilliantly layered exploration of what made Victor Frankenstein the man he became.... Victor’s struggle to pit fraternal love against his baser emotions, particularly his animal attraction to their cousin Elizabeth, who loves Konrad, gives a compelling psychological edge to this richly imagined Gothic thriller.--The Telegraph

"Adventures do not come more thrilling, gorgeously written or absorbing than this."--London Times

About the Author

Kenneth Oppel has published more than fifteen books for children. In 1995, he won the Air Canada Award for the best Canadian writer under the age of thirty. Formerly the Books for Young People Editor at Quill & Quire magazine, he now writes full time. He lives with his wife and children in in Toronto, Ontario.

More About the Author

Kenneth Oppel is the author of numerous books for young readers. His award-winning Silverwing trilogy has sold over a million copies worldwide, and been adapted as an animated TV series and stage play. Airborn was winner of a Michael L Printz Honor Book Award, and the Canadian Governor General's Award for Children's Literature; its sequel, Skybreaker, was a New York Times bestseller and was named Children's Novel of the Year by the London Times. He is also the author of Half Brother, and This Dark Endeavor, a prequel to Frankenstein. His most recent book is THE BOUNDLESS, a thriller set aboard the longest, most magnificent train ever built. Born on Vancouver Island, he has lived in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, England, Ireland, and now lives in Toronto with his wife and children.

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Customer Reviews

I loved how Oppel treated Mary Shelley's Victor Frankenstein and other characters.
just Joan
Victor is a powerful character with believable motivations and realistic passions and obsessions.
Read this book right at the end of summer, just when the evenings begin to get cold.
E. E. Ellsworth

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Prather TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
After turning the final page of This Dark Endeavor, I immediately wanted to go search out and re-read my battered copy of Frankenstein. If this book has the same effect on the young audience it targets, then it will indeed have served a noble purpose. While I wasn't immediately engaged by this story that seemed to take a bit too long to get rolling, it wasn't long before my imagination was totally taken in by the fine writing, the depth of characterizations and the thrilling adventure.

The author does an amazing job at achieving balance in a story that is at times gruesome and haunting, and sometimes just hold your breath, edge of your seat thrilling. Victor's narrative voice is strong and true, and the dialogue is masterfully done. Obsession lies at the root of this story and here we get an intriguing look at the genesis of one of the most famous obsessions in literature. Teens will be captivated by Victor's quest for the elixir of life and will willingly follow him anywhere in his attempt to save his brother. They will relate to Victor's love/hate relationship with his twin brother, and his jealousy over the beautiful Elizabeth.

Heart wrenching emotion, villainy, alchemy, and love all combine much as they did in Shelley's masterpiece to form a story that is a worthy prequel to a classic. This will appeal to young adults with a thirst for adventure, especially boys who will be quick to place themselves in Victor's shoes. Elizabeth is a strong character who will also broaden the appeal to young girls who enjoy period fiction. Give this one to fans of Yancey's The Monstrumologist. While it does not provide the monsters, it does provide a literary examination of the dark side of human nature perfect for those with a thirst to examine their own obsessions. Recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Action, suspense, brotherly love, romance, adventure, jealousy, desire, and betrayal are just a few of the things that make This Dark Endeavor feel like you're reading a beloved classic. With it's perfectly paced story line and well developed, believable in-depth characters, this story about young Victor Frankenstein is both engaging and intriguing.

I was hooked form the moment I started reading this book. Everything about it captured and held my attention. I really felt drawn to Victor, Elizabeth and Victor's brother Konrad. They're closeness, and imaginative adventures had me wishing I was there to accompany around their Chateau Frankenstein in the beautiful outskirts of Geneva. There's a rich history both with the family Chateau and the surrounding area that I devoured. I also really liked the Frankenstein family. Victor's parents are high class, outstanding citizens who are also quite liberal and well educated for their time. I should say it was uncommon for a women to be liberal, have a voice and be as well educated as his mother is. That intelligence is passed on to Victor.

What starts out as a quest to save his brother leads Victor down an enticing, darker road that many of taken and few have walked away from unscathed. It was so easy for me to sympathize with Victor's motives for doing what he does. He's a very passionate character, who will do anything to save his beloved brother from dying of a mysterious illness. One of the things I loved about the brothers is their bond and the way they balance each other. Konrad is the laid back, easy going brother who's slow to temper, unlike Victor. Victor is a complex character who's head strong, stubborn and very competitive.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. E. Ellsworth on August 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Audio Review: From the very first chapter, I was absolutely hooked by Luke Daniels' narration.Though Konrad and Victor are identical twins, Daniels gave each of them a distinct voice that very clearly matched their personalities. Victor was hasty, loud, and often immature. Konrad was deliberate, gentle, but sometimes haughty. I was even impressed with his narration of Elizabeth and Victor's mother. A good narrator should add to the story, and I felt like listening to the audio brought me a little closer to the characters and allowed me to drink in the darkness of it.

My Review: Billed as a prequel to Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," This Dark Endeavor is a deliciously gothic tale that adds a new dimension to Victor Frankenstein that a new generation of readers will devour.

I'm sure many of you have seen the movie Frankenstein. My father, a genetics professor, shows it to his classes at the beginning of each semester to demonstrate Hollywood's depiction of science. Because scientists are mad, obsessed individuals that replace science with God in their quest to understand the world and life. But, unlike the movie's depiction, "This Dark Endeavor" shows Victor as a frustrated teenager who abandons both religion and science in an effort to heal his brother, Konrad.

One of the many things I liked about this book was the exploration of Victor's family and their progressive views. Set in the heat of the French Revolution, Victor's father believes in treating his servants as equals, and is a well-respected leader in the community. Victor's mother is a feminist that believes that women should be equal to men.
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