Age Range: 10 & up


Abandoning the world of Redwall, Jacques's (Lord Brocktree, 2000, etc.) newest novel is a treasure hunt, preceded by a seafaring legend. Caught aboard a legendary doomed ship, The Flying Dutchman, a young boy endures cruelty and ill treatment under wicked Captain Vanderdecken and his evil crew. Joined by a black Labrador pup, our hero struggles to stay alive as the ship heads around Cape Horn. An avenging angel appears to condemn the ship to eternal struggle with the sea, but casts the two innocents aside on Tierra Del Fuego. The story really starts on page 76, several centuries later in 1896 England as the two come to save a village from being torn down and replaced by a quarry and cement factory, hence the search for needed documents. We get a hint that this adventure is one of many future stories for boy and dog as they eternally roam the earth fighting evil, helping good people to triumph. Goodness and intelligence are generally equated, as is criminality and stupidity. Characters are overdrawn, the plot equally melodramatic, and a certain tension is missing by knowing that our hero and his dog embody good and will live forever. The dog and boy communicate through thought transference, the dog often translating for other animals as well. For fans of Jacques, the length will be expected, the growth of the peripheral characters’ ability to stand up for themselves gratifying, and the murderous cruelty and evil of all the villains fitting them as valid opponents for avenging angel, boy and dog. The portrayal of the deeds of the evil captain and his equally horrible crew is vivid. It is the stuff of nightmares for the boy throughout the book, and readers may find it haunting long after the book is read. Victorian England's villains can't compare and are actually humorous, especially the London toughs called in as “frighteners.” Legend and magical elements enliven this melodramatic and sentimental tale, which will undoubtedly be beloved by Redwall fans. Zesty, but ultimately unsatisfying. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-399-23601-5
Page count: 327pp
Publisher: Philomel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2001


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