Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Every Hidden Thing

Publish October 21, 2016

The Civil War has just ended, the Pacific Railway is expanding westward, and a scientist named Darwin has published a radical theory on evolution in award winning author Kenneth Oppel’s latest novel, Every Hidden Thing, a star-crossed love story set in the paleontological heyday of late 19th century America. Having participated in his father’s research since he was a little boy, Samuel Bolt is intrigued when a stranger sends an ebony dinosaur tooth whose size promises the largest carnivore skeleton ever uncovered – the mythical “Black Beauty.” Samuel and his father mount an expedition to the Badlands, only to meet their rivals, Professor Cartland and his daughter Rachel, along the way. Yet despite their fathers’ acrimonious relationship, Rachel and Samuel are inexplicably drawn to each other and find their loyalties divided by an undeniable attraction. Samuel has never known a girl so studious and insightful, and Rachel is drawn to his impetuous nature and carefree charm. When the fathers realize they are hunting the same specimen, espionage and vandalism ensue as both scientists attempt to sabotage each other’s plans. But the two parties are unprepared for the even greater obstacles they will meet in the wild west: thieves, bad weather, and increasingly hostile encounters with the American Indians. As the two expeditions race to find the giant carnivore, Samuel and Rachel realize that their unlikely partnership might be the only hope of finding the Black Beauty. Author of the Silverwings series, Oppel plunges readers more than a century back in time to a landscape so richly imagined that one can almost feel the heat, breathe the dust, and smell the bacon. Although Samuel and Rachel are endearingly naïve, their budding romance is unconventional – even shocking – by the standards of their time, and the enduring themes of Oppel’s tale will strike a chord with modern readers. A Romeo and Juliet story for the paleontology world, Every Hidden Thing combines meticulously researched historical fiction with an engaging coming of age story that captures the bold and heady zeitgeist of post-Civil War America.

Every Hidden Thing

Kenneth Oppel
Harper Collins Canada
ISBN 13: 978-1-44341-029-8

Karen Doerksen
Karen Doerksen Karen Doerksen lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta with her husband and four children. She works for the Edmonton Public Library, and holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Alberta.  

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