In Karayaka’s debut novel, a young boy finds a father figure in a mysterious old fisherman, starting him on a swashbuckling quest on the high seas.
Levend and Orion, two old friends, return to Levend’s hometown ahead of a party scheduled for the following day. Both men recognize an old boat on the docks, and when a group of local boys ask how the men know the vessel, Levend begins to tell a tale about when he was 14 and confided in an older fisherman calling himself “Mr. Ben Ice.” Levend grew to trust Mr. Ice, who was missing an eye, a hand, and a leg, and followed him out to sea on a search for fish. However, young Levend quickly realized that Mr. Ice had a sinister history and that his own life was now at risk. The boys listen to Levend’s story with bated breath, and after Orion reveals his connection to the tale, they enjoy a drama replete with pirates, secret elixirs, combat, and betrayal. At the center of all of it is the mystery of who Mr. Ice really was. And what of Benice, the wife whom he longed for? Karayaka’s novel is an occasionally violent page-turner that sometimes rewinds the action to allow different narrators to fill in events from alternate perspectives. As a result, it features three different time periods and a plethora of plot twists. However, the aforementioned violence is understated, and the narration keeps all the details clear and concise, making it suitable for younger readers. The writing style is reminiscent of the prose in the 1993 English translation of Paulo Coelho’s novel The Alchemist, featuring turns of phrase that offer nuggets of wisdom. Eason’s (The Gobblings, 2017) illustrations at the start of each chapter are done in a classical style, reminiscent of boys’ adventure books from the 1950s and ’60s, and use a light color palette to evoke a sense of mysticism. It all comes to a touching conclusion, and readers are left with a lasting moral.
A Treasure Island for the modern era, recommended for middle-grade readers and fans of pirate-adventure tales.