Endowed with the trappings of a comedic pirate yarn but not its heart, this series opener focuses more on one character’s soul-searching than nautical action.
Hardly has sheltered young “Old Worlder” Jem arrived on tropical islands believed to be haunted by the ghosts of exterminated natives than he is kidnapped by genteel pirates led by a grandiose pipsqueak. He is then rescued by the Lost Souls—an unwashed crew of orphans and runaways (all 13 or younger) sailing the supposed ghost ship Margaret’s Hop (the terminal “e” having been lost in the past) under the command of fiery but insecure Capt. Scarlet McCray. Guided by a map that belonged to his vanished uncle and pursued by the aforementioned pirates, Jem and the Lost Souls set out to find a fabled treasure. The search, however, proves little more than a vehicle for Scarlet’s continual second-guessing as she frets about being a proper, “captainly” leader and struggles to keep the Lost Souls entertained and a rebellious crew member in line. In the wake of numerous contrived obstacles overcome, the sudden re-emergence of Scarlet’s suppressed awareness that she’s half-Islander serves as a more sharply felt (if, at least for readers, not particularly cogent) climax than the discovery of the “treasure.” This turns out to be a glade so mystically peaceful that the fact that it’s surrounded by birds’ nests full of rubies comes across as just a nice added feature.
Echoes of Peter Pan notwithstanding, a less-than-seaworthy outing. (map, glossary) (Adventure. 10-12)