Victor knows he must not fail. But 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.
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 won a Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award and the Canadian Governor General’s Literary 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, This Dark Endeavor, Such Wicked Intent, and The Boundless. Born on Canada’s Vancouver Island, he has lived in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Canada; in England and Ireland; and now resides in Toronto with his wife and children. Visit him at KennethOppel.ca.
Read an Excerpt
WE FOUND THE MONSTER ON A ROCKY LEDGE HIGH ABOVE the lake. For three dark days my brother and I had tracked it through the maze of caves to its lair on the mountain’s summit. And now we beheld it, curled atop its treasure, its pale fur and scales ablaze with moonlight.
It knew we were there. Doubtless it had smelled us coming, its flared nostrils drinking in our sweat and fear. Its crested head lifted slightly, almost lazily. Coins and jewels clinked and shifted as its body began to uncoil.
“Kill it!” I roared. My sword was in my hand, and my brother was at my side, his own blade flashing.
The speed with which the beast struck was incomprehensible. I tried to throw myself clear, but its muscular neck crashed against my right arm, and I felt the arm break and dangle uselessly at my side. But my sword hand was my left, and with a bellow of pain I slashed at the monster’s chest, my blade deflecting off its mighty ribs.
I was aware of my brother striking at the beast’s lower regions, all the while trying to avoid its lashing barbed tail. The monster came at me again, jaws agape. I battered its head, trying to stab its mouth or eyes, but it was as quick as a cobra. It knocked me sprawling to the stone, so that I was perilously close to the precipice’s edge. The monster reared back, ready to strike, and then it shrieked in pain, for my brother had severed one of its hind legs.
But still the monster faced only me—as if I were its sole adversary.
I pushed myself up with my good hand. Before the monster could strike, I hurled myself at it. This time my sword plunged deep into its chest, so deep I could scarcely wrench it out. A ribbon of dark fluid unfurled in the moonlight, and the monster reared to its full height, terrible to behold, and then crumpled.
Its head shattered on the ground, and there, among the bloodied fur and cracked crest, was the face of a beautiful girl.
My brother came to my side, and together we gazed at her, marveling.
“We’ve broken the curse,” he said to me. “We have saved the town. And we have released her.”
The girl’s eyes opened, and she looked from my brother to me. I knew she didn’t have long to live, and a question burned inside me. I knelt.
“Why?” I asked her. “Why was it only me you attacked?”
“Because it is you,” she whispered, “who is the real monster.”
And with that, she died, leaving me more shaken than I could describe. I staggered back. My brother could not have heard her words—they were spoken so softly—and when he asked me what she’d said, I shook my head.
“Your arm,” he said with concern, steadying me.
“It will heal.” I turned my gaze to the pile of treasure.
“We have more than can ever be spent,” my brother murmured.
I looked at him. “The treasure is mine alone.”
He stared back in astonishment, this brother of mine who looked so much like me, we might have been the same person. And indeed we were, for we were identical twins.
“What do you mean?” he said.
I lifted my sword, put the tip against his throat, and forced him, step by step, toward the edge of the precipice.
“Why should we not share this,” he demanded, “as we’ve shared everything else equally?”
I laughed then, at the lie of it. “No twins are ever completely equal,” I said. “Though we’re of one body, we are not equal, Brother, for you were born the sooner by two minutes. Even in our mother’s womb you stole from me. The family birthright is yours. And such a treasure that is, to make this one look like a pauper’s pittance. But I want it, all of it. And I shall have it.”
At that moment the monster stirred, and in alarm I turned—only to see it making its final death contraction. But in that same instant my brother drew his sword.
“You will not cheat me!” he shouted.
Back and forth across the ledge we fought. We were both strong, with broad shoulders and taut muscles that thrived on exertion. But my brother had always been the better swordsman, and with my broken arm I was even more disadvantaged. But my cold serpent’s resolve was strong, and before long I had smacked the sword from his hand and forced him to his knees. Even as he stared at me with my own face, and pleaded with me in my own voice, I plunged the sword into his heart and stole his life.
I gave a sigh of utter relief and looked up at the moon, felt the cool May air caress my face.
“Now I shall have all the riches in the world,” I said. “And I am, at last, alone.”
For a moment there was only the shushing of the breeze from the glacial lake—and then applause burst forth.
Standing on the broad balcony, I turned to face the audience, which had been watching us from their rows of chairs just inside the ballroom. There was Mother and Father, and their friends, their delighted faces bathed in candlelight.
My brother Konrad sprang to his feet, and together we ran back to the crumpled monster and helped our cousin emerge from her costume. Her luxuriant amber hair spilled free, and her olive complexion glowed in the torchlight. The applause grew louder still. The three of us joined hands and took a bow.
“Henry!” I called. “Join us!” We all three of us waved him out. Reluctantly our best friend, a tall blond wisp of a fellow, emerged from his lurking spot near the French doors. “Ladies and gentleman,” I announced to the audience. “Henry Clerval, our illustrious playwright!”
“Bravo!” cried my father, and his praise was echoed round the room.
“Elizabeth Lavenza as the monster, ladies and gentlemen,” said Konrad with a flourish. Our cousin made a very pretty curtsy. “My name is Konrad. And this”—he looked at me with a mischievous grin—“is the hero of our tale, my evil twin, Victor!”
And now everyone was rising to their feet, to give us a standing ovation.
The applause was intoxicating. Impulsively I jumped up onto the stone balustrade to take another bow, and reached out my hand for Konrad to join me.
“Victor!” I heard my mother call. “Come down from there at once!”
I ignored her. The balustrade was broad and strong, and, after all, it was hardly the first time I had stood on top of it. But I had always done so secretly, for the drop was considerable: fifty feet to the shore of Lake Geneva.
Konrad took my hand, but instead of yielding to my pull he exerted his own, and tried to bring me down. “You’re worrying Mother,” he whispered.
As if Konrad hadn’t played on the balustrade himself!
“Oh, come on,” I said. “Just one bow!”
Our hands were still joined, and I felt his grip tighten, intent on bringing me back to the balcony. And I was suddenly angry at him for being so sensible, for not sharing my joy at the applause—for making me feel like a childish prima donna.
I jerked my hand free, but too fast and too forcefully.
I felt my balance shift. Already weighed down by my heavy cape, I had to take a step backward. Except there was nowhere to step. There was nothing, and suddenly my arms were windmilling. I tried to throw myself forward, but it was all too late, much too late.
I fell. Half turned, I saw the black mountains, and the blacker lake, and directly below me the rocky shore—and my death, rushing up to meet me.
Down I fell toward the jagged shallows.
But I never reached it, for I landed hard upon the narrow roof of a bow window on the château’s lower floor. Pain shrieked from my left foot as I collapsed and then rolled—and my body began to slide over the edge, legs first. My hands scrabbled, but there was nothing to grasp, and I was powerless to stop myself. My hips went over, then chest and head—but at the roof’s very edge was a lip of stone, and it was here that my frenzied hands finally found purchase.
I dangled. With my feet I kicked at the window, but its leaded panes were very strong. Even if I could’ve cracked the glass, I doubted I could swing myself inside from such a position.
More important, I knew I could not hold on for very long.
With all my might I tried to pull myself back up. My head crested the roof, and I managed to hook my chin over the lip of stone. My flexed arms trembled with fatigue, and I could do no more.
Directly above me came a great clamor, and I glimpsed a throng of people peering over the balustrade, their faces ghastly in the torchlight. I saw Elizabeth and Henry, my mother and father—but it was Konrad onto whom my gaze locked. Around one of the balustrade’s posts, he had tied his cloak, so that it hung down like a rope. And then I heard my mother’s shrieks of protest, and my father’s angry shouts, as Konrad swung himself over the top of the balustrade. He grabbed hold of the cloak, and half climbed, half slid, down to its very end.
Even as the strength ebbed from my arms and hands, I watched, enthralled. Konrad’s legs still dangled some six feet from my little roof, and his landing spot was not generous. He glanced down, and let go. He hit the roof standing, teetered off balance—to the gasps of all the onlookers—and then crouched, low and steady.
“Konrad,” I wheezed. I knew I had only seconds left before my muscles failed and my fingers unlocked. He reached out for me.
“No!” I grunted. “I’ll pull you off!”
“Do you wish to die?” he shouted, making to grab my wrists.
“Sit down!” I told him. “Back against the wall. There’s a stone ledge. Brace your feet against it!”
He did as I instructed, then reached for my hands with both of his. I did not know how this could work, for we weighed the same, and gravity was against us.
And yet . . . and yet . . . with our hands grasping the other’s wrists, his legs pushing against the stone ledge, he pulled with all his strength—and then something more still—and lifted me up and over the roof’s edge. I collapsed on top of my twin brother. I was shaking and crying and laughing all at once.
“You fool,” he gasped. “You great fool. You almost died.”
© 2011 Firewing Productions
Reading Group Guide
A Reading Group Guide to
This Dark Endeavor
by Kenneth Oppel
About the Book
In this prequel to Mary Shelley’s gothic classic, Frankenstein, fifteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein begins a dark journey that will change his life forever. Victor’s twin, Konrad, falls ill, and no doctor is able to cure him. Unwilling to give up on his brother, Victor enlists his beautiful cousin, Elizabeth, and his best friend, Henry, on a treacherous search for the ingredients to create the forbidden Elixir of Life. Impossible odds, dangerous alchemy, and a bitter love triangle threaten their quest at every turn. Victor knows he cannot fail. But 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.
There are names and terms cited in the story that will likely be unfamiliar to most readers. Ask readers to use reference books or electronic research sources to find out as much information as they can about the following: Cornelius Agrippa, alabaster, alchemy, apothecary, Aramaic, Archidoxes of Magic, augury, brazier, cadaverous, cauterize, clairvoyance, codex, divination, gossamer, malodorous, Methuselah, pallor, palpable, Paracelsus, paragon, passata-sotto, pianoforte, Sanskrit, Sturm und Drang, tryst, unguent, and viscera.
Most readers will likely not have read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein but will be familiar with some aspect of the story through films based upon the novel or popular culture references. Ask readers what they know about the Frankenstein story. Following that discussion, explain to readers the outline of Shelley’s Frankenstein and how she came to write the novel.
Use an atlas to show readers the location of Switzerland and Geneva.
What mood is established in the first chapter?
How did Elizabeth come to live with the Frankenstein family? How did she behave “like a feral cat” when she came to live with them?
In what country and where in that country do the Frankensteins live?
What kind of home is Château Frankenstein?
Why do you think the door to the library has such an elaborate lock?
Who built the Biblioteka Obscura and what was his vocation?
What opinion does Victor’s father have of the books in the Biblioteka Obscura?
What does Victor mean when he describes his home as “a most peculiar one”?
What is the terrible situation in France that Victor’s father talks about?
Who is Henry Clerval?
Why do you think learning Greek and Latin is such an important part of the Frankensteins’ education?
In what way does Victor wish he was more like Konrad?
What does Victor see in his future?
What feelings are sparked in Victor when Konrad becomes ill? What accounts for Victor becoming ill?
Why does Victor consider Konrad “the brighter star in our family's constellation”?
How does Dr. Bartonne treat Konrad’s illness?
What do you think is the meaning of Victor’s dream about his father’s library?
Why does Victor want to return to the Dark Library?
What does Victor notice about Wilhelm Frankenstein’s portrait?
What is the significance of the name of the street on which Julius Polidori lives, Wollstonekraft Alley?
What is Victor’s first impression of Polidori?
What does Polidori tell Victor about the Occulta Philosophia?
Why does Polidori say he owes his life to Victor’s father?
What is odd about Polidori’s pet, Krake?
Why does Victor consider Dr. Murnau’s methods ghoulish?
What is Dr. Murnau’s theory about Konrad’s illness?
What does Victor notice about Elizabeth when he sees her dressed in his clothes?
What does Elizabeth do to the vulture that shocks Victor? What does seeing “the savage expression on her face” make Victor want to do?
How does Konrad respond to Dr. Murnau’s treatments?
Why does Victor want to keep his identity secret from Polidori?
Why does Victor feel betrayed when he realizes that Konrad and Elizabeth are in love?
Why is the lynx known as “Keeper of the Secrets of the Forest”?
What does Polidori say is needed from the coelacanth for the elixir?
What does Victor “steal” from Elizabeth? How does he learn that Elizabeth knows of his deception?
Why does Elizabeth not tell Konrad of Victor’s deception?
When Victor asks Elizabeth why she fell in love Konrad and not him, what is her explanation? What does she tell Victor that scares her about him?
What is the secret Victor will keep from Konrad?
What subject do Konrad and Elizabeth bring up that embarrasses Victor?
What happens when their father learns they have been working alchemy?
How might the dream Victor has of Konrad dead be considered foreshadowing?
What does Victor discover about his father? What is his reaction?
Why does Victor decide not to use alchemy to win over Elizabeth?
What does Konrad tell Victor is his problem? What does he say Victor must accept?
What does Victor learn from his father about his work in alchemy?
Elizabeth questions Victor’s motive for wanting to save Konrad, believing that it may be more for his own glorification. Do you think Victor is motivated to save him out of self-interest?
What sacrifice does Victor make for the elixir?
What does Henry reveal about Polidori? What is the reason for Polidori’s deceit?
What does Polidori reveal about the marrow for the elixir? Why didn’t Polidori make two doses?
What does Victor consider doing with the elixir?
What do the authorities find at Polidori’s apartment?
What does Dr. Murnau do about the elixir?
When Victor calls the recovering Konrad his “creation,” how is it another example of foreshadowing?
Elizabeth is upset that her face will be left scarred from the lynx. Why does Victor find her “all the more desirable for it”?
When Konrad dies in his sleep, Victor wonders if the elixir failed or if Konrad had been ill too long for it to help him. What do you think is the reason? Should Victor blame himself for Konrad’s death?
What is significant about how Konrad’s body is interred?
Victor promises himself that he will see his brother alive again. Do you think Victor will be able to bring Victor back from the dead? How do you think he might go about finding a way to do that?
Have readers write an opening chapter for a sequel to This Dark Endeavor.
Ask readers to create a storyboard of a favorite chapter or scene from the novel.
In the novel there are two references to the French Revolution. Victor’s father and Schultz discuss the terrible situation in France and the terror the mobs are spreading. (p. 25) Victor notes that France is in the “utmost turmoil.” “The king and queen had been beheaded, and mobs of revolutionaries roved the land in a reign of terror, persecuting any who might disagree with them.” (p. 226) Ask students to work in pairs and use print and electronic resources to learn more about the French Revolution. When they have completed their research, have them share their findings.
One of the three ingredients for the Elixir of Life is oil from a coelacanth. Considered extinct for millions of years until it was found by fisherman to still exist, the coelacanth is considered a “living fossil.” Have readers use print and electronic resources to research further information about the coelacanth. Two excellent books are Fossil Fish Found Alive: Discovering the Coelacanth by Sally M. Walker (Carolrhoda, 2002) and A Fish Caught in Time: The Search for the Coelacanth by Samantha Weinberg (Harper, 2000). A good Internet resource is www.dinofish.com.
Read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and discuss what parallels there are between the novel and This Dark Endeavor.
About the Author
Kenneth Oppel is the author of numerous books for young readers. His award-winning Silverwing trilogy has sold more than a million copies worldwide and has been adapted into an animated TV series and stage play. Airborn was a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and won the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award for children’s literature; its sequel, Skybreaker, was a New York Times bestseller and was named Children’s Novel of the Year in 2005 by the London Times. His most recent book is Half Brother. He lives in Toronto with his wife and children. You visit him at http://www.kennethoppel.ca/.
This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
This guide was written by Edward T. Sullivan, a librarian and writer.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A forbidden secret library. Adventure. A love triangle. Suspense. The quest to find the ingredients to the elixir of life... What an amazing prequel to Mary Shelley's classic, Frankenstein - Victor is your typical 15 year old teen boy, everything seems to be fun and games until something serious and life-changing happens and Victor must decide if doing the wrong thing is actually the right thing to do. He enlists his twin brother, Konrad, their 'distant' cousin, Elizabeth, and family friend, Henry, on an adventure never to be forgotten. Yes, there is a bit of a love triangle going on, but it is done so perfectly that you will not lose the pace of the story, nor be distracted by it either. There were a few 'gasp-out-loud' moments where I had to will the images out of my head - but I am squeamish, lol, and those who are not, will love every single detail of their journey. This is a definite 'buzz-worthy' must read!
I just wanted to say there is a sequel thank gosh!
It was great. It wasnt scary as it sounds really. But the ending is the worst. It is sad and eveything turns out not according ro plan. If theres not a secound book im going to really MAD!
This book was amazing. I couldn't put it down. I'm a twin too so i could relate to Victor's pain.
Best book I've read so far
I love different takes on characters and stories that we've known and loved for ages. This Dark Endeavour could be a novel that merely rides on the coattails of Mary Shelley's classic tale, Frankenstein, but it is a great story in its own right. Victor and Konrad Frankenstein are twins with a complicated relationship. They are both brilliant, clever, fun, gregarious and adventurous. Their differences are what separates them, however, and add an air of competition to their usually loving and close relationship. Elizabeth is a childhood friend that is forever caught between the two and becomes willingly involved in their adventures. Naturally, both brothers find themselves enamored of her and the divide between them escalates. The love triangle is not the crux of the story, however, the trio discover forbidden documents, brave fatal illnesses, hunt in the farthest reaches of the land for potion ingredients, are betrayed, betray each other, and suffer terrible losses in the course of this story. This Dark Endeavour takes place several years before the tale of Victor Frankenstein that we already know. I loved peeking into this part of his young adulthood and knowing the tortured man he will ultimately become. The beginning is enjoyable and all about the setup, but the last half is the part of This Dark Endeavour that will make you a true fan. The pace is breakneck and the twist and turns abound. After the last page was turned, I found myself with my mouth hanging open and my heart in my throat.
Kenneth Oppel is a great writer. I have not read a book like this in a while. You will not be disappointed if you buy this book.
This book is a "can't put it down -read the night through-husband and kids were jealous " kind of book. Don't read when you have to get up early the next morning! You will want to read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein all over again....
I got sucked in from the first chapter and read this book in 2 days..... thats with a full time job and a boyfriend.... I love this twist on a classic tale. There was such adventure and excitement throughout the whole thing. It ends with an unspoken promise of a next book where we might find out more! Hope there is a next one and don't think I can wait until it come out!
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (The Dark Endeavor Chronicles #1)Pages: 304Release Date: August 23rd, 2011Date Read: 2011, Oct. 25th-20thReceived: LibraryRating: 4/5 starsRecommended to: 14+SUMMARY -Victor and Konrad Frankenstein are twins - together from birth, inseparable at any cost. They are both the same in looks - and yet so completely different in personality, wisdom, and vision. When Konrad grows ill, and none of the doctors seem to be able to heal him, Victor decides to take the matter into his own hands. He wishes to create the Elixir of Life, to bring his brother to complete health again. With the help of his friends Elizabeth and Henry, Victor will risk everything to save his brother's life, before it's too late.MY THOUGHTS -I love Kenneth Oppel. I love the way he writes, the way his characters spring to life, imperfections and all.This Dark Endeavor shot up my reading list when I saw it. It was first in line, even with tons of stuff going on. I had to have it.And it was totally awesome! Maybe not as memorable as the Matt Cruise books; maybe not as totally incredibly amazing - but wonderful all the same. Totally different, too. For a while, I wasn't sure what to rate it, but 4 stars feel right. While it didn't blow my mind, it was still so solid and right and good and just soooo well-written because you really can't expect otherwise from Kenneth Oppel.CHARACTER NOTES -Victor and Konrad were so perfect for each other and this book. Because not only are they twins ad best friends, but they are also, in a way, opposing forces.Victor had a great leading role voice. The reason? He was a fool, lacking in wisdom and grace. And yet, I absolutely loved him. That Oppel was able to show Victor's immense stupidity without making the reader hate him is an incredible feat. Seeing Victor change throughout the book, whether for good or bad, was also something I could hold onto about Victor. I still think of him. HE was memorable, that's for sure.Elizabeth and Henry were extraordinary; Elizabeth with her two sides, Henry with his fears and doubts. They were 3D and easy to relate to and totally different.And Konrad. He's not a favorite, but he was indeed strong and valiant, at heart if not in body. If I had not cared for him, the drive to the story would have been lost. He was important, and I definitely value presence in the book.STORY NOTES -At first, I was incredibly intrigued. What would Oppel do with a retelling/prologue of Frankenstein's life? The first chapters were both startling and beautiful, as well as sad and foreboding. Then I got busy with life and couldn't read for two days and lost track of the story at a slower part...and it took a bit of shoving my way back in before I felt at home again. But as soon as I was, the story flew ahead and - wow.It was crazy. The quests and feats they accomplished to get the three ingredients to the Elixir were intense and really revealed character strengths and weaknesses.There were some very crazy twists in the end, and I was happy to find that Oppel delivered his usual - where just when you think things can't get any worse, they do. This happens for a few chapters and then - BAM! You're shocked by the final, climactic scene. I love Oppel for that, among other things.Also -the love triangle. Woah! I've never read anything quite like that. Yikes! What will happen?!SUMMING IT UP -Bitter. Usually I don't use negative words to describe books I like, but it's so true. This book was full of bitterness - mixed with love, braver, passion, and madness. What a crazy combination - one that I heartily enjoyed - and even shed a tear over. Wow! Such Wicked Intent comes out late this summer and I'm SO EXCITED to read it!! :DFor the Parents -Maybe one minor cuss word. Some passionate kisses; Victor sees Elizabeth's wild, passionate, side and feels something powerful towards her - love, surely, but also an animal-like lust which he tries to overcome.
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel is a prequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein as a teenage boy who begins to explore the dark sciences as a way to save his twin brother, Konrad's, life. Victor, Konrad, Elizabeth, their mutual love interest, and best friend Henry share difficult choices and dangerous adventures as they fight to save Konrad's life and to discover who they really are. The book is incredible- really, really engrossing and full of adventure, mystery, romance, jealousy and darkness. I think it would be perfect to pair with Frankenstein in a booktalk, reading assignment, whatever. With a classic like Frankenstein that's been reimagined so often, especially in film, I think it's easy to imagine that we already know the story and that it's not worth reading, but reading This Dark Endeavor will make readers want to know more of the story and to compare Victor as a teen to Victor as an adult mad scientist.
A forbidden secret library. Adventure. A love triangle. Suspense.The quest to find the ingredients to the elixir of life...What an amazing prequel to Mary Shelley's classic, Frankenstein -Victor is your typical 15 year old teen boy, everything seems to be fun and games until something serious and life-changing happens and Victor must decide if doing the wrong thing is actually the right thing to do.He enlists his twin brother, Konrad, their 'distant' cousin, Elizabeth, and family friend, Henry, on an adventure never to be forgotten.Yes, there is a bit of a love triangle going on, but it is done so perfectly that you will not lose the pace of the story, nor be distracted by it either.There were a few 'gasp-out-loud' moments where I had to will the images out of my head - but I am squeamish, lol, and those who are not, will love every single detail of their journey.This is a definite 'buzz-worthy' must read!
Victor and his twin brother Konrad have a good life in the Frankenstein family chateau on the shores of Lake Geneva. Their parents are loving and open-minded, the servants are part of the family, and they are getting a wonderful education from their father and other tutors. Even their distant cousin, Elizabeth, shares in their schooling, something quite rare at a time when France was in the throes of a revolution.The chateau is an old building, full of secrets passages and dungeons. The cousins discover a hidden library full of books on alchemy, which their father forbids them to visit again. But when Konrad falls ill with a mysterious disease and none of the doctors seem to able to heal him, Victor returns to the Dark Library in search of a cure for his brother.With the help of a dubious alchemist in town, Victor, Elizabeth and their friend Henry begin a quest to gather the ingredients for the magical Elixir of Life. It is dangerous, but Victor is determined to save his brother¿s life. During the quest, he discovers his romantic feelings for Elizabeth ¿ and has to deal with the fact that she is already in love with Konrad. Is the mysterious Polidori really on their side? Can the friends find the ingredients for the elixir without losing their own lives? What will Victor have to sacrifice for his brother? And can Konrad¿s life really be saved?Victor Frankenstein is, of course, the main character of Mary Shelley¿s classic novel Frankenstein. This book gives us a glimpse at his life before he created the famous monster (and by the way, the monster¿s name is not Frankenstein ¿ it doesn¿t have a name at all).
This Dark Endeavor is a pacy, high-tension adventure story with some excellently subtle and believable character development. The writing was strong, and I enjoyed the gothic tone and imagery. Having read Shelley's Frankenstein adds another layer to the book, but teens who are only a little familiar with the Frankenstein tale will still enjoy This Dark Endeavor because it holds its own with a strong plot and lots of excitement.
Kenneth Oppel sure can write a good adventure story involving both boys and girls. In this book the hero is a young Victor Frankenstein, twin brother to Konrad. Konrad is very ill and Victor tries to keep him alive by concocting an elixir from a recipe found in old books in his family castle's basement. Victor, his cousin, Elizabeth, and friend, Henry, take the books to Julius Polidori, a man rumored to have been involved in alchemy and who may be able to translate the recipe and create the elixir. Readers are treated to page-turning action as the trio dashes around the country side with faith, dedication and self-sacrifice to help Konrad. The story ends with the distinct possibility of a sequel or two.
Teenage Victor Frankenstein pursues alchemy cure for his twin brother.Why I picked it up: Starred professional reviews, and I like Oppel.Why I finished it: It was a slog, frankly. Oppel is a decent writer, and I was vaguely interested in where he was going with this. We all know where this story ends up, so it plays out like a tragedy.I'd give it to: Grad students tracking the rising trend of Alchemy stories.
The love triangle spoils an otherwise exciting and frightening young adult novel about the young Victor Frankenstein and his twin bro Konrad. If I could only exorcise those rather vapid love scenes! This will be a hard sell since young teen boys aren't going to go for the pinings of Victor for his brother's only love...the beautiful Elizabeth. And teen girls aren't going to care much about the dark and brooding Victor and his quest for the Elixer of Life, even though Elizabeth is a strong female character. Some great scenes, though. Fairly violent with lots of blood.
He's aliveee! Well, only in Kenneth Oppel's book anyway. And no, we're not talking about the modern-Prometheus-Frankenstein here. We're talking, the creator of Frankenstein--Victor Frankenstein. The young Victor Frankenstein way before Mary Shelley's original story. And I have to say, This Dark Endeavor is an unforgettable book.True story, I haven't read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein nor have I seen any Frankenstein retellings around. I didn't plan to any time in near the future, anyway. But This Dark Endeavor captured my attention and Kenneth Oppel scores points for a unique and original story. The writing was exceptional and convinced me that this could in fact, be real and that I was in Geneva in the 18th century. I noticed though, that throughout the book "for" was used countless times.I honestly don't know what I expected from This Dark Endeavor, but whatever I did, the book managed to exceed those expectations. I never thought This Dark Endeavor would take me on a joyride of emotions and not once did I think that the love triangle would be that bitter. It had me jumping from Victor to Konrad--both brothers whom I love. Konrad, effortlessly perfect, calm, attractive against his twin brother, Victor. Victor who has to work for everything, quick tempered, and flawed. Both brothers fight for the love for their distant cousin, the feisty Elizabeth, who is the only girl who dared to adventure with the Frankenstein brothers--plus Henry.Victor Frankenstein was a character full of flaws. He was jealous, possessive, and compared to his brother, he was imperfect. He isn't always good, unlike his brother, but he strives to be. Most of the time, being compared to someone who looks exactly like you but is better than you, is a pain. And it drives Victor mad. Still, he took extreme measures to save his twin. Though flawed, Victor burns with passion and determination throughout the book and combining all three, passion, flaws, and determination Victor makes a relatable three-dimensional character.Kenneth Oppel intricately spins the creepy, chilling, gothic, and suspenseful tale of the apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, with twists that make you never put the book down. The ending had me in tears, and the only thing running through my mind at the end was, "This isn't the end. There has to be more."
The story of Victor Frankenstein as a young man,before the events described in Mary Wollstonecraft's novel. His twin brother, Konrad, becomes extremely ill, and Victor develops an obsession with alchemy while trying to find a cure for his brother's illness.
My first introduction to Frankenstein was the old black and white movie that were on TV in the 1960¿s. I loved spending my Saturdays watching them. When I hit college and studied Byron, and Shelley I learned how the story of Frankenstein came about. Percy and Mary Shelley were visiting their friend Lord Byron when a storm came up. They sat around telling ghost stories when a challenge was thrown out. They were each to write a scary story and see who could come up with the best. Enter Mary Shelley¿s Frankenstein. For this reason when given the opportunity to read and review this book I jumped at the chance.Kenneth Oppel took a few liberties when creating the early years of Victor Frankenstein. He gave Victor a twin brother. Victor and Konrad love each other very much. Where Victor is out for success, doing things that will make a name for himself, no matter what¿; his brother Konrad is the opposite. He is constantly thinking of others and giving credit to others instead of taking it for himself. This of course draws people to him. Then we throw in their distant cousin Elizabeth. Both of the boys are drawn to her. When we add the jealousy Victor feels towards his brother over Elizabeth and the way Konrad is treated by others we can see trouble brewing. When Konrad becomes ill and doctors can do nothing, Victor decides to become the hero here. He will do what the regular doctors can¿t. HE will find a cure for his brother. He along with Elizabeth and his best friend Henry search out the old outcast alchemist Julius Polidari. He then sets out on a quest to retrieve the three main ingredients necessary for ¿the elixir of life¿. We can see right from the beginning there is a battle raging inside of Victor. It is the battle of why he is truly taking up this quest. We see the power of darkness, in all its forms, and its effect on him. This is a book that anyone who loves Frankenstein, or anyone who has never been privileged to read Frankenstein should read. It diverts from the original a bit but not enough to detract. In my opinion it enhanced my reading experience.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. It is the first in a duology acting as a prequel to Mary Shelley¿s `Frankenstein¿. Set in eighteenth-century Geneva, readers are introduced to the Frankenstein twins (Victor and Konrad) as children - two very different boys born just minutes apart. They share their luxurious life with their cousin Elizabeth, whose appearance is explained early on in the novel. Konrad becomes sick and Victor dreams of being able to cure him, even more so after discovering the Dark Library hidden in a secret room. The adventures that the three of them have, along with their friend Henry, are fantastic and with such evocative narrative they really come to life. All of the characters are very well written and the way in which the author has made it an accessible introduction to the Frankenstein story is great. I never particularly enjoyed reading Mary Shelley¿s novel when I first approached it but perhaps after reading this story, along with the second prequel (Such Wicked Intent) it would be more enjoyable.A brilliant story!
Victor Frankenstein has always felt slightly overshadowed by his elder twin brother Konrad. Konrad is kinder, more intelligent and stronger than Victor and is loved and admired by the whole household, family and servants alike, in a way that Victor knows he never will be. But when Konrad falls dangerously ill with a seemingly uncurable fever, Victor knows that he will do anything to make his brother well again and against the wishes of his parents he starts to dabble in alchemy, trying to concoct an Elixir of Life that will make Konrad well again.Kenneth Oppel has written a prequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, featuring a young Victor Frankenstein at 16. I have read the original Frankenstein before but it was some time ago and I don't think you need to have read it to enjoy this prequel.I thought Oppel did a really good job with the characters of Victor and Konrad Frankenstein. We know Victor Frankenstein isn't exactly a saint as an adult and you can see the beginnings of this in the arrogance and jealousy that Victor exhibits as a young man. It would be all too easy for Oppel to have made Victor a very unlikeable character as young man but he's managed to show enough of a dark side to Victor to make it believable that he becomes the adult Victor Frankenstein but there's also enough of a good side to him to make him a character we can sympathise with. Again, Konrad is clearly the nicer of the two twins but not so nice and good that you end up disliking him or finding him annoying. After a bit of a slow start I found myself more and more drawn in to this gothic tale. Once I got to the last 70 pages or so I really couldn't put the book down. This is apparently the first of two books about young Victor Frankenstein and although most readers will be pleased to hear that the first book doesn't end with a cliff-hanger ending, there's still plenty of scope left for a second book. I really enjoyed reading this and it's made me want to reread Mary Shelley's original Frankenstein. I hope it also inspires young people to go on to read that great gothic classic for the first time.
This Dark Endeavor is a fun, Gothic read, a sort of prequel to Shelley's Frankenstein. This is the story of Victor Frankenstein as a teen and his twin brother, Konrad. Oppel expertly explores Victor and how he could have come to be the character we all know from literature. I enjoyed Oppel's writing and world building -- he made the world of chemistry, alchemy, and philosophy of the time vivid and come to life. It all feels authentic and dark and rich. Then there was the development of Victor and his relationship with his brother and Elizabeth. We feel for Victor, but also can see his flaws and the dichotomies of his personality. I love these kinds of explorations of someone's psyche, trying to figure out what makes them tick. This Dark Endeavor will appeal to middle grade and young adult readers who are looking for something dark and Gothic, almost steampunk.
It is simply one of the best books i have read !!!!! And trust me i have read many interseting books in my day.