Saturday, 3 December 2011

'This Dark Endeavour' by Kenneth Oppel Book Review

I just finished the latest Kenneth Oppel novel, 'This Dark Endeavour' and am once again blown away by this captivating read.

A beautiful and intriguing cover as seen through a keyhole at a male figure, who's back is facing us. This is most likely the protagonist of the story, Victor Frankenstein. 

Victor Frankenstein and his twin brother Konrad has always been inseparable. With their beautiful cousin Elizabeth and their friend Henry, the four discover a mysterious library in the chateau in which they live and find ancient books of alchemy, so called 'witchcraft' which their father bans them from reading and visiting. 

When Konrad falls ill with seemingly no cure, Victor couldn't resist the temptation of seeking out the 'Elixir of Life'. With Elizabeth and Henry, Victor engages the help of banned alchemist Polidori and goes to extreme lengths to save his brother.

Oppel is phenomenal at engaging his readers through the characters' relationships, and here he is no different. The love triangle between Victor, Konrad and Elizabeth is addictive, at times brutal. Victor is real and relatable and possesses many of the traits other Oppel protagonists possess (he's a character similar to Matt in Airborn). 

The book is also well paced; a tad slow to begin with (though sets the scene well), but picks up about a third of the way through and then you'll finish the book before you realise it; this is helped also by the surprisingly large font. Whilst most of the mini adventures in their ingredient collecting is somewhat predictable- if you've read most of Oppel's teen novels, you'll understand- it is still thrilling and tense.
There is also a surprisingly dark and explicit scene of trauma towards the end which I actually felt a bit queasy just reading and thinking about it; though this evocation of such intense emotion is definitely a strength to the book and to Oppel as an author.

Another strength Oppel has developed is his ability to shock. The last chapter was completely out of the blue and unexpected. The contrast between the last line of the previous chapter and the last was insane- another emotionally strong and impactual ending. 

As the book deals with many themes such as religion, God, alchemy, Science and mystery; it does a good job in not favouring any of these ideals, but rather leaves it open to interpretation and questioning, as the characters ponder on these issues themselves.

The book lends itself immediately to a sequel, called 'Such Wicked Intent', which was likely planned by the way things left off, and the plot of this book is pretty obvious also. I just can't wait to read it!

'This Dark Endeavour' is a brilliant novel and a great start to the planned trilogy. The dark plot, well sculpted characters, engaging themes and the shocking twists that is put into the novel makes this a tense and thrilling read for teens and adults alike! I'm eagerly awaiting the next book as well as the upcoming film based on this novel!


  1. hi we are using your photos for a project, you're very talented & we will be giving you credit for each picture.


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