This Dark Endeavor

Simon & Schuster; 2011

by Kenneth Oppel

Whether I was eight  reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”, or fifty-six reading Anne Rice’s “The Wolf Gift”, I have been, and always will be, a voracious reader looking for the ultimate  voyeuristic literary experience: a story that invites me to immerse myself within the mind, thoughts, and emotions of the authors creations.

A seduction of the senses used to lure me into becoming  one with the  very humanistic passions, victories, and despairs of its characters.

Kenneth Oppel’s “This Dark Endeavor” has accomplished all that, and more.

I don’t remember what it was that first drew me to read “This Dark Endeavor”, as I’d never heard of Kenneth Oppel or any of his other YA books such as, “Airborn”, “Skywing” or “Skybreaker” .

It might have been a review I read somewhere (though I don’t usually put much stock in other people’s reviews, or even my own for that matter), Facebook post or Twitter tweets. More than likely I saw it at the library (still, after all these years, one of my favorite haunts) proudly displayed on their  “New Arrivals” shelf;  flaunting what I think is a very cleverly designed book cover (Let’s face it, front covers make or break books. Find yourself a great cover artist and you sell even the worst prose. But get stuck with a moderately, so-so one; might as well bury the book somewhere in the middle of a fifty-cent bin.).

Regardless of where I first discovered the book, the fact that I did, and that I liked it well enough to run right out and locate the sequel,  should say a lot for what I think about the author, his characters, and the story he tells.

“You can’t eat [literature], that’s the problem,” he said. “I’ve tried, it’s very dry, and not at all nutritious.”
― Kenneth Oppel

Not only is the book well written,  and the plot and its characters nicely developed, but Kenneth Oppel has done a brilliant job of exploring the unspoken question in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”; “Who was the real monster; the creature or its creator?”

Throughout the main protagonist-antagonist’s story,  Victor Frankenstein’s narrative search to find a cure for his twin’s mysterious illness, Oppel  enlightens  us with  glimpses into the nature and soul of a young man at war with himself;  the moral obligation to do what is right and good,  against the inner darkness to  become the god-man he secretly believes himself to be.

Oppel  helps his readers to do this by exploring the humanistic schizophrenia that lives within us all: that at one time or another in the journey of every life, each of us will be forced to choose between darkness and light, human or god; and that hidden within the very best of intentions, are motives powerful enough to deceive us all.

It is the precursor to the mind and heart of a man,  who in later years, will be forced to come face to face with the dichotomy of his own heart.

“This Dark Endeavor” is one of those books that should,  and or will be found (in my not so humble opinion), on the bookshelves of the; young and old, classical or pulp, serious or flibbertigibbet.

On a scale of one to five, I’m giving “This Dark Endeavor” a four and half.

Book Two: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein: “Such Wicked Intent

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer,


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