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This Dark Endeavour [Hardcover]

Kenneth Oppel
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

6 Oct 2011 This Dark Endeavour (Book 1)

The purest intentions can stir up the darkest obsessions.

In this prequel to Mary Shelley's gothic classic, Frankenstein, 16-year-old Victor Frankenstein begins a dark journey that will change his life forever. Victor's twin, Konrad, has fallen ill, and no doctor is able to cure him. Unwilling to give up on his brother, Victor enlists his beautiful cousin Elizabeth and 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 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.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books (6 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857560123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857560124
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 687,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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. His most recent book is Starclimber. Born on Vancouver Island, he has lived in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, England, Ireland, and now lives in Toronto with his wife and children.

Product Description


"Adventures do not come more thrilling, gorgeously-written or absorbing than this." (Amanda Craig The Times)

"I truly can't recommend This Dark Endeavour highly enough. It's a sophisticated novel with a classic feel, it has real drama and tragedy and a morally ambiguous but charismastic character. And the writing is top notch. This book doesn't just appeal to fans of Gothic fiction - it's for anyone who likes a classic read. Don't miss it." (

"[A] captivating gothic novel for 13+ about the future Dr. Frankenstein and his competitive love for his twin brother. Books this good are for life, not just Christmas." (Amanda Craig The Times)

"A brilliantly layered exploration of what made Victor Frankenstein become 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." (Dinah Hall The Sudnday Telegraph)

"This is a wonderfully atmospheric story, the sort to get lost in, for 12s and above." (Philip Womack The Daily Telegraph)

Book Description

The first book in a pair of dark, gothic thrillers that tell the story of young Victor Frankenstein's life - everything that happened before he became the creator of THAT monster.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Frankenstein prequel 11 April 2012
By H. Ashford VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In this fascinating prequel to Frankenstein, the young Victor Frankenstein sets out on a quest to obtain ingredients that will enable him to create an Elixir of Life, in an attempt to fund a cure for the mysterious illness that threatens the life of his twin, Konrad. Victor, his close friend Henry and his lovely cousin Elizabeth set out together on an adventure which leads them to explore arcane knowledge and confront terrifying forces.

I enjoyed this a lot. The story is well told and in a modern and accessible language which should appeal to teenage readers. The characters are convincingly drawn, both the male and the female lead, and it should appeal to readers of both sexes.

The story itself isn't gruesome exactly, but is quite dark and has a fairly grim ending. This, I think, increases the appeal to teenagers - no nice easy solutions here!

Overall, a fascinating YA read, which will appeal to adults too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Young Frankenstein 4 Nov 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First in a pair of books that are a prequel to Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the Modern Prometheus.

This one runs for three hundred and seventy seven pages and is divided into seventeen chapters.

And it's the story of things that happened to Victor Frankenstein when he was a teenager.

He narrates it in the first person.

Shortly after having discovered a secret library at the family home, Victor then sees his brother fall sick. With medicine seemingly unable to offer a cure, Victor and his cousin Elizabeth plus their friend Henry search the library for a cure. And seemingly find what they're looking for.

But it's forbidden knowledge. And as they go through several trials and tribulations to get what they need to help his brother, Victor has to face another problem that isn't easy to solve.

Unrequited love.

Managing to be both a period piece and very modern in it's style with it, this is supremely readable from the off. And is one of those books where little happens early on because it's setting the scene, and yet the pages do turn swiftly.

Steadily, it does become a very involving read. It's marketed for young adults. The ideal age would probably be fourteen and up. There's nothing desperately scary in here, but there are a few scenes that are mildly disturbing. And teenagers of the aforementioned age will be able to relate to some of the things that Victor goes through.

The ending does pack a very strong emotional punch, all of which leads to some strong character development.

Whilst it's pretty much self contained there will be another book to follow that takes the story further. On the basis of this, it should be worth a look.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not very good 11 July 2014
It wasn't my favourite as it didn't interest me
Therefore I would not recommend this book to you
It isn't very good
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful YA gothic horror novel 27 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My coming across this book was a bit of pure luck, browsing the shelves at Waterstones and seeking something with a boy on the cover, or at least a boy protagonist along the girls that seem to dominate the YA genre. So when the book I picked up (actually Suck Wicked Intent, which I hadn’t realised was book two at the time) offered not only a boy on the cover but the promise of a thrilling dark and gothic prequel to the story of Frankenstein, I was rather excited.
Now let’s put it into context, I have never read much gothic horror, be it classical or modern, and my attempts at dipping my toes in the horror genre have never gotten me very far. I love the creepy, mysterious build ups but the endings always leave me disappointed, often bitterly so. I did, however, hope that a story set in a time period so very suited to the genre and mixing alchemy with the paranormal would be what I had been looking for.

Instantly, Victor (main twin and POV of both books) was my favourite of the twins: Konrad just seemed too damn good and too damn reasonable whereas Victor already promised all the greyness I like to find in my protagonists. So when Konrad falls mysteriously ill after he, his brother, and their childhood friend Elisabeth discover the family’s hidden Dark Library which contains hundreds of tomes on alchemy, Victor isn’t willing to sit still and wait for the doctors to do something. Instead, helped by Elisabeth, for whom he is just about starting to develop feelings, and their friend Henry who has always been dragged into their ‘adventures’, he delves into the Dark Library–against his father’s wishes–to seek a cure for his brother.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting and engaging 4 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
The first thing that drew me to This Dark Endeavour was the cover. I’m down with seeing pretty girl on YA covers—totally—but sometimes it nice to see boys. And well, the model on the cover is fairly delicious, in all his gothic-y goodness. Which is to be expected, since This Dark Endeavour is essentially the prequel to Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein. Which, I have to admit to not having read. (You’ll find I’ve not really read anything dating back before the late 80s, unless you count assigned texts at school, such as the usual Of Mice and Men etc. [Which, being perfectly honest, is another I have no idea as to when it was published.] Therefore, I’ve not read anything in the same period as Shelley, or anything Gothic whatsoever.)

Regardless, I adored this book.

Given that it’s a prequel to a book written by someone Oppel could not have known, there were certain boundaries imposed as to what he could and could not do—to a point. He imaginatively crafted a believable history and backstory for the eventual Dr Frankenstein, giving him a different sense of live and separation from his older incarnation, but also bringing the whole focus of the story to this new, young Victor in the past. Essentially, Frankenstein and his monster are, for now, forgotten.

Victor and his twin brother Konrad, and their lives at Chateau Frankenstein form the centre point of the story. Add in a beautiful, very distant cousin and their collective best friend Henry, and already the idea of reanimated monsters is far from mind.

When Konrad falls ill and despite the family’s efforts, there seems to be nothing to cure him. Weak and with a fever refusing to break, it does not look good. But mere days before, whilst exploring the chateau’s many rooms, they find a secret.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The dark path of Victor
Victor Frankenstein is one of the most hatable characters in gothic literature, but how did he become that way? Read more
Published 5 months ago by E. A Solinas
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully written, truly original spin on the classic.
Review also published on my blog,

This Dark Endeavour is the first of Kenneth Oppel's prequel to Frankenstein series. Read more
Published 8 months ago by StudentSpyglass
4.0 out of 5 stars Adds an extra dimension to the original
A unique and very interesting insight into the mind of Victor Frankenstein. Told in first person from Victor's perspective giving a wonderful spin to the original; one that should... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Book Angel Emma
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit of an insult to the original...
This book started out quite weak and didn't really strengthen as the story went on. By page 16 we'd had Victor fall off a balcony and then Harry, Ron and Hermione discovers a... Read more
Published on 20 May 2012 by Miss Victoria Ramage
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting glimpse into the young Victor
This is a young adult book telling the early story of Victor Frankenstein, but I'm sure it would appeal to older ages too. Read more
Published on 9 April 2012 by Michelle Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to Frankenstein for younger readers
This is the story of Victor Frankenstein as a boy, along with his twin brother Konrad. It's this relationship with his brother which provides some of the clues and motives to... Read more
Published on 22 Mar 2012 by Fiona Millar
5.0 out of 5 stars Great prequel to the classic story
This and its sequel Such Wicked Intent: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, Book Two promise to be great introductions to some of the themes explored in Frankenstein... Read more
Published on 19 Mar 2012 by Arkgirl
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good for ages 13+
This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel

The book grabs your interest from the onset making it a real page turner. Read more
Published on 16 Mar 2012 by Aremess
3.0 out of 5 stars Gothic Jr.
This is a teen friendly prequel to the legendary gothic book Frankenstein. The language is much more accessible than Mary Shelley's text, which is ideal considering the audience... Read more
Published on 14 Mar 2012 by Sockymon
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