This Dark Endeavour (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein) by Kenneth Oppel

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.


I first encountered Kenneth Oppel when I read Airborn, which I absolutely loved. I loved the mix of adventure, humor, and mystery. Naturally, because I liked it, I sought out other books by Oppel. I came across This Dark Endeavour at my school's book fair and snatched it up. It's been sitting on my shelf for awhile, which is why I decided to make it a part of my reading challenge. 

I must confess, I didn't like this novel as much as Airborn. I found myself comparing this book to Airborn a lot while reading, which perhaps isn't fair. As it is supposed to be a prequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, it has a gothic twist, which gives it a very different feel from Airborn. It has plenty of adventure and mystery, with a dash of humor and romance, just like the other story, but for some reason, this story did not come together as well for me. Perhaps my experience with Airborn led me to have unfair expectations for this one. I enjoyed the story, but I wasn't completely drawn in and captivated like I was before. I still think the book is worth reading and I liked it enough to read the sequel.

2015 Reading Challenge: A book you own but have never read

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