Book Review: This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein Book 1) by Kenneth Oppel

When Victor's twin, Konrad, comes down with a mysterious illness, Victor, Elizabeth, and Henry set out to use alchemy to make an elixir that will heal him. But many things stand in their way, including dangerous quests to get ingredients, Victor's father, and Victor's struggle with his own feelings toward his brother and himself.

Book Review: This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein Book 1) by Kenneth Oppel | reading, books, book reviews, historical fantasy, retelling
Title: This Dark Endeavor
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 298
My Rating: 4 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


Having already completed both books in this duology, it’s hard for me to separate the two, but I can safely say I enjoyed this ominous Frankenstein-inspired story.

Both books had this great undercurrent of darkness and ominousness throughout, but the first was the more adventurous of the two. The plot was a bit formulaic with how the characters needed to go on a sort of mini-quest to obtain each of the ingredients they needed to make the Elixir of Life, but each quest was filled with something dangerous or disturbing, and altogether it was well-written and made for a good story.

One thing I really thought the author did a great job with was Victor’s feelings toward his twin, how he loved Konrad and couldn’t imagine life without him, but how he also envied him in ways and felt like the inferior twin.Also Victor’s character growth, his spiral into darker thoughts, doing the wrong things, or doing the right things for the wrong reasons. I found myself thinking, “Oh, Victor, no,” more and more frequently. I felt for him though. He had some darkness in him, but he fought against it, and I think his heart was ultimately in the right place.

I was not so lovable as Konrad, no. I would never have his charm, or grace or patience or effortless skill at things. But I had the same fine body, and what mine contained had more grit and determination and passion.

Were these not things worth loving?

Most of all though, this book was gripping. Maybe it could’ve been a little darker and explored certain things more, but I didn’t want to put it down once I started, and that’s always the sign of a good book.

I also want to mention that the blurb mentions a love triangle, and there kind of was one since both Victor and Konrad had feelings for Elizabeth, but I wouldn’t call it a true love triangle. I wouldn’t even say there’s a romance subplot in the duology. Victor’s romantic feelings influence some of his thoughts and actions, but that’s about it.

So overall, I was gripped by this book, I really liked the bit of darkness and complexity in Victor’s character and his relationship with his twin, and I knew I wanted to continue with the next book as soon as I finished!


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  1. Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

    Oppel is one of my favourite childhood authors and I can’t believe this one somehow missed my radar?? The main character sounds fascinating and I adore complicated sibling relationships (which is a bit weird, seeing as how I’m an only child :P). Thank you for sharing! <3

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m also an only child, kinda, and I think that’s precisely why I like reading about sibling relationships, especially twins. We like because it lets us experience that kind of relationship! I hope you like the book if you try it!

  2. Greg

    Ooh I like the sound of alchemy and elixirs (that could be a book title, or maybe a roleplaying game lol), and the hunt for ingredients sounds fun too. Nice that Victor has a complicated relationship with his brother, with both feelings of familial loyalty as well as resentments or jealousies.

    1. Kristen Burns

      That could totally be some sort of game! Or you could extend it into “Alchemy, Elixirs, and the Hunt for Ingredients” and make it a puzzle game or something, haha. But yeah, I really liked Victor’s complicated feelings about his brother!

  3. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

    Victor sounds like a complex character and I liked that so much was explored with his character and his relationship with Konrad. I’m guessing the whole book is told from his POV? Seems like the perfect time to read something that’s so ominous and atmospheric.

  4. Olivia Roach

    Oh my goodness, I am SO adding this one to my Goodreads wishlist! I have read many books by Kenneth Oppel in the past and I think he is a brilliant writer. I wasn’t aware that he did a Frankenstein inspired story, and seeing as I love the classic, I think I am going to like this one. I am glad it was so gripping and that you could enjoy it so much ^.^ I’m really excited right now!!

  5. Bookworm Brandee

    I’m way late in commenting so don’t feel like you have to comment back, Kristen. I’ve had this review up on my laptop for – well I guess since it posted. I wanted to see what you thought because this book felt familiar to me. I just realized this morning that it’s because my older daughter read it and put it on my tbr pile. 😉 I’m glad you enjoyed it even if it could have been darker, written a bit tighter. It sounds really good and since both my daughter and you recommend it, I’ll pull it off the pile sooner than later. LOL