One of my favorite parts of reading This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel was spotting the references & nods to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein — since This Dark Endeavor is written as a prequel to that book.
So in case you missed them or want more insight, here’s a look at some of the major references:
When Victor and his friends go in search of the alchemist, the address they are given takes them to Wollstonecraft Alley. This is actually a direct reference to Frankenstein author Mary Shelley herself — whose maiden name was Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin.
In This Dark Endeavor, Julius Polidori is the name given to the alchemist whom Victor and his friends visit for help creating the Elixir of Life.
But author Kenneth Oppel actually took the name from John William Polidori — a friend of Mary Shelley, who was also the physician for Lord Byron. Polidori was part of the group that challenged each other to write a horror novel — and while Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein, Polidori went on to write Vampyre, one of the first vampire novels!
Though not obvious necessarily in the next, Oppel told us that when writing about Victor’s parents in This Dark Endeavor, he used Mary Shelley’s real-life parents as inspiration. William Godwin and Mary Wollestonecraft were liberal thinkers — and so, too, are Victor’s parents. Oppel says he also used traits of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron to flesh out Victor’s character — something Mary Shelley herself allegedly did while writing Frankenstein.
For the comments: Did you catch any of these references while reading This Dark Endeavor? Notice any others?
While reading through once again, I noticed these two possible allusions. Let us not forget Elizabeth’s dream where she heard a voice saying “I shall be with you on your wedding night. This is what Frankensteins Monster tells Victor after he creates and subsequently destroys the monster bride. As well, Victor (in Oppel’s prequel) dreams he is travelling through the alps in search of something, though not sure what. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor must travel north to find his monster and kill it.