“This Dark Endeavor” is, well, dark

This Dark Endeavor

by Kenneth Oppel

3 *** = Good, may not be for everyone

Sometimes I make bad decisions and am surprised when they have consequences.

Example #1: Donuts for breakfast – they look so good, but don’t taste that good and make me feel like garbage. And yet, I still eat two.

Example #2: Assuming I can make it to Eastern Washington with a ¼ tank of gas over Labor Day weekend. You don’t even want to know how that went.

Example #3: Reading books that have the words “dark,” “blood,” “blade,” etc. and act surprised when they’re dark, bloody, and violent.

One day I’ll learn my lesson.

My most recent decision was regarding “This Dark Endeavor” by Kenneth Oppel.

Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures…until the day their adventures turn all too real. They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only peaks Victor’s curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not be satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Elizabeth, Henry, and Victor immediately set out to find assistance in a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula.


Determination and the unthinkable outcome of losing his brother spur Victor on in the quest for the three ingredients that will save Konrads life. After scaling the highest trees in the Strumwald, diving into the deepest lake caves, and sacrificing one’s own body part, the three fearless friends risk their lives to save another. (premise from Goodreads). 

Guess what. ‘This Dark Endeavor” is kind of dark. I’m so glad you all are smarter than me.


Oppel does write characters well. This is particularly true of Victor. I think the real plot of this book is the character development of Victor as he transforms from a fairly innocent youth into the young adult version of the Dr. Frankenstein. Each situation and relationship Victor participates in is either making him into a better or worse version of himself. It also helps to roughly know the ending of famous Frankenstein story.


As mentioned above, the plot I think is really about the character development of Victor. However, it’s disguised as the quest to save Konrad’s life using unconventional methods. As you guessed, it is kind of dark. There were a few times as I was reading when I wondered if this is what reading horror is like. It’s not terribly gruesome; it’s just kind of, well, dark.

My two cents

What I enjoyed about this book is the character development of Victor, particularly in light of the famous Dr. Frankenstein. However, the dark science/magic aspects of it just weren’t my cup of tea. I like fantasy and magic and even a little science fiction. But “This Dark Endeavor,” was basked in darkness (duh), whereas I prefer a little light and hope intermixed.


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