Sheldon (Strong Heart, 2017, etc.) returns readers to the mythic history, natural wonder, and terror of the Olympic Peninsula in this nautical sequel.
When the container ship Seattle Express catches fire in the Gulf of Alaska, it sets dramatic events in motion for many different people. Larry and Louise, a downtrodden pair of tugboaters, race their old, reliable tug Warhorse to the wreck, hoping that a successful salvage will breathe new life into their faltering family business. William, aka “Walleye,” returns from the previous novel, serving onboard the Seattle Express. When his lifeboat disappears, it’s up to his daughter, Myra, and friends Tom and Sarah to save him, and as they do so, they dig into the spiritual and physical past. The story takes place against the backdrop of the shipping industry around the Haida Gwaii archipelago, also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands by British Columbia. As in the previous installment, this novel does an excellent job of portraying the nuance and overlap in spirituality and working-class struggles, as nature, family, history, and business collide over the course of the story. William spent a significant portion of Strong Heart as a witness to others’ family histories, but he takes center stage here; Haida Gwaii is his birthplace, and his history with the islands is complex. Larry and Louise are also welcome additions to the cast, as their story gives readers insight into the realities of maritime life and broadens the scope of the series overall. For readers who aren’t familiar with Sheldon’s previous work, this novel effectively stands alone and remains accessible throughout. The story of how the crew of the Seattle Express fights for survival and the detailed descriptions of land- and seascapes make for a stirring combination.
A rich tale of spirituality, grit, and danger.