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VOYAGE OF MIDNIGHT by Michele Torrey Kirkus Star


by Michele Torrey

Age Range: 12 - 15

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 2006
ISBN: 0-375-82382-4
Publisher: Knopf

The most intense and harrowing of Torrey’s nautical Chronicles of Courage takes a young British orphan from the workhouse to New Orleans, and then to Africa as Surgeon’s Mate aboard his uncle’s slave ship. At first, Philip is delighted to find his only living relative to be a genial, prosperous ship’s captain with an important job for him. That enthusiasm dims when he learns, mid-voyage, that he’s become involved in an unsavory, illegal trade (the year is 1821), and changes to outright horror when he’s charged first with helping to brand the gathered human “cargo,” then with treating its escalating ills as below-decks conditions quickly go beyond hideous on the return voyage. That voyage becomes even more shot through with terror and despair when all on board, captives and crew, are blinded by conjunctivitis. But it gives Philip, the first and one of the few to recover his sight, a chance to at least try to make amends by tricking his uncle into sailing east rather than west. Though this has some parallels with Paula Fox’s Slave Dancer (1973), it’s definitely for audiences with stronger stomachs. (author’s note, glossary) (Fiction. 12-15)