Greene (Castle of Fire, 2012, etc.) returns with a third volume of his YA nautical adventure series set in the early 19th century.
Jonathan Moore and his fellow 14-year-old cohorts, Sean Flagon and Delain Dowdeswell, are all in London as the book begins. Jonathan and Sean have been there for about 10 months since returning from their last mission aboard the Danielle, during which they were instrumental in defeating a fleet of Napoleon’s vessels. Delain arrived in the city more recently, when her father, the governor of the Bahamas, decided that it was time for his three daughters to be schooled in proper social graces. The boys are anxious to return to sea, and Delain is quite bored with her “studies.” But another rousing escapade awaits the teens, as midshipman Jonathan and Marine private Sean are to be stationed aboard the beautiful, swift HMS Paladin. Unbeknownst to the crown, someone has hijacked the Echo, one of the king’s ships, and the Paladin is next on the thieves’ shopping list. The Paladin’s orders are mysteriously changed, and its crew is sent off on a secret mission to the Dalmatian island of Dugi Otok. Jonathan and Sean soon find themselves in battle against the bloodthirsty Nikomed Aggar, a henchman for a Russian profiteer. Meanwhile, Delain, stuck in England and fueled by an insatiable curiosity, suspects that something is amiss with local Lord and Lady Wilder, so she embarks upon a personal mission of espionage. Greene has produced another page-turner here, filling the seas with gunfire and knife fights and London’s streets with a network of spies and traitors hidden in tea parties and fox hunts. He deftly alternates scenes of maritime- and land-based exploits, creating a perfect mix of grisly nautical violence, urban skulduggery, and gentle takedowns of British high society. Delain is a delightful character who’s smart, funny, and independent; Jonathan and Sean, meanwhile, are heroes of the first order—tenderhearted, ingenious, and fierce in battle. Greene’s fluid prose ably handles the extensive nautical terminology, making it easily understandable, and the dialogue reflects both the pretension and the wit of the period.
An exciting, satisfying historical novel with a touch of poignancy.