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Book Review: This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel

Award-winning author Kenneth Oppel creates a spellbinding prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Check out Kidzworld’s book review of This Dark Endeavour.

The Dark Library

In Victor Frankenstein’s teenage years, before he created his infamous monster, he lived with his parents, younger siblings, twin brother Konrad, and beautiful cousin Elizabeth. Victor felt outshined by his twin in every way, and he always strived for attention. When he, Konrad and Elizabeth discover the Dark Library hidden in a secret passage, Victor’s interest is piqued. He finds all kinds of old books, most pertaining to the illegal practice of alchemy.

The Elixir of Life

When Konrad becomes ill and no doctors are able to cure him, Victor takes it upon himself to search for the Elixir of Life. He, Elizabeth and their friend Henry seek out a retired alchemist named Julius Polidori who’s had success with this elixir before. When he agrees to help, the wheelchair-bound alchemist gives the teenagers three ingredients to collect. But the manner of collecting them is not easy, and nearly costs them their lives.


Meanwhile, Victor begins to develop feelings for Elizabeth, only to discover that Konrad has already claimed her heart. Even on his deathbed, Konrad outshines him in love, in sport and in manner. So what is Victor’s real intention in curing him: brotherly love or a hero’s fame?

The Bottom Line

This Dark Endeavour is a rich, dramatic novel filled with love, jealousy and betrayal. Kenneth Oppel paints Victor as an anti-hero, whose jealousy plays a big part in turning him over to the dark side. Each character is very distinct and likable (or hateable, whenever that was the author’s intention). Even though this book is targeted at a teen audience, we recommend it for the middle grades as well! Happy reading!

Have Your Say

Have you ever read Frankenstein? Are you a Kenneth Oppel fan? Leave a comment and let us know!

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