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 again, 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. 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 was adapted into an animated TV series and stage play. Airborn won a Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award and the Governor General’s Literary Award; its sequel, Skybreaker, was a New York Times bestseller and was named Children’s Novel of the Year by The Times (London). He is also the author of Half Brother, This Dark Endeavor, Such Wicked Intent and The Boundless. Born on Vancouver Island, he has lived in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and in England and Ireland, and now resides in Toronto with his wife and children.
JON KLASSEN is the author-illustrator of This Is Not My Hat, winner of the Caldecott Medal and the Kate Greenaway Medal, and I Want My Hat Back, a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. He is also the illustrator of Cats' Night Out, which won the Governor General’s Award; The Dark, a finalist for the same award; House Held Up by Trees, a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book; Extra Yarn, a Caldecott Honor Book; and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, also a Caldecott Honor Book. He created the concept art for Coraline, the stop-motion animated film based on the book by Neil Gaiman. Originally from Niagara Falls, he now lives in Los Angeles.
This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor FrankensteinIdentical twins Victor and Konrad Frankenstein have grown up in their Geneva chateau, along with their distant cousin Elizabeth. Nearly inseparable, there is hardly a room that they haven’t explored – except for the Dark Library, which contains secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies. Their father forbids them to enter it, but this further piques Victor’s curiosity. When his brother falls gravely ill, he is drawn to the Dark Library in search of a cure. He finds a recipe for an ancient formula known as the Elixir of Life, which he hopes will save his brother. The Elixir needs only three ingredients, but dangerous alchemy, impossible odds and a bitter love triangle will threaten his quest at every turn.
In the first book in a new trilogy that precedes Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Ken Oppel masterfully creates a story that will grip readers from its opening pages. The characters are complex and interesting, and flawed. Of the two, Konrad is kinder and gentler, and Victor is dark and passionate. Victor cares deeply for his brother but also feels a simmering jealousy for the ease with which he gets everything he wants – including Elizabeth’s love.
When conventional science fails to find a solution to Konrad’s illness, Victor is drawn to the ancient practice of alchemy. That’s where the story is at its most intense. There is a great deal of mystery attached to alchemy and, with great skill, Oppel explores the often blurry line between science and magic – particularly in the eighteenth century, when the story takes place.
The historical setting is wonderfully depicted, and the author does an excellent job of bringing the different facets of Geneva to life. The chateau where they reside is large and sprawling and a place for adventure and imagination, while the sector of the city where the alchemist resides is dark and foreboding.
The story moves at a breakneck pace, and readers will find it impossible to put down. It is a story of love, courage, jealousy and, most importantly, an examination of how good intentions can turn bad.
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2011. Volume 34 No. 4.
This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor FrankensteinForbidden from entering the Dark Library, Victor disregards his father’s wish to find the recipe for the Elixir of Life. Needing only three ingredients, he must overcome impossible odds, dangerous alchemy and a bitter love triangle. Knowing his brother’s life is at stake, Victor must decide how far he is willing to push the boundaries of nature, science and love and how much he is willing to sacrifice.
Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Spring, 2012.