Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel (book review).

In the spirit of ransacking the treasures of the past, no royalty free novel is safe from the sequel/prequel game and ‘Such Wicked Intent’ is another that uses ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley as a starting point. It takes the character of the gothic novel published in the eighteenth century and turns them into teenagers with an unhealthy preoccupation with the dead.


This book is for the ‘Twilight’ generation where there is a thread of sexual jealousy running through the text that very much ties it onto the gothic traditions. It’s all gloomy skies and mournful ponderings but there is also a plot that moves it way from just being a retread of the original book.

This is the second of two books, the first being ‘‘This Dark Endeavour’, and now Victor has lost his brother, Konrad, and the Dark Library. A chance find of a special book in the ashes of the library gives him the means to pass over and meet up with his twin in a spirit reproduction of the mansion they live in. Victor takes Elizabeth and Henry with him and they hatch a plan to bring Konrad back from the dead.

All we know of these characters is contained within Mary Shelley’s novel, so it is odd to think that these people have no future beyond that. Even as we follow their adventures in ‘No Wicked Intent’, we are reading it with the knowledge that this foretells their deaths. It is quite a creepy process but, despite that, the plot is good with the cross-over moments to the spirit world well-thought out with an action-packed ending.

As there is no joy in the sociopathic lead character of Victor Frankenstein, it’s hard to empathise with him or his friends. With little hope in the narrative of a positive outcome, there is only a brief respite at the end before we consider their eventual fate. The idea is that the plot of Frankenstein is effectively set up by this and the previous novel but we could just read the original and create our own prequel. Some people won’t like that ‘Frankenstein’ has been used for this and I think it would be a better book if the connection was more subtle. Most of the time, it doesn’t need to be about ‘Frankenstein’. I would, on the whole, prefer to see this as a novel independent of its inspiration but perhaps without the resonance of the classic it might fall too flat.

Sue Davies

February 2015

(pub: David Fickling/Random House. 373 page small hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-857-56016-2)

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