Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE SERPENT NEVER SLEEPS by Scott O'Dell

THE SERPENT NEVER SLEEPS

A Novel of Jamestown and Pocahontas

By Scott O'Dell

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1987
ISBN: 0395442427
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Although she meets King James of England and is invited to come and write letters at court because of her fair penmanship, Serena Lynn takes a ship for the New World, following the fortunes of Anthony Foxcroft, hot-blooded son of the Countess who had employed her. She wears a serpent ring given her by King James; he told her it would protect her. The ship wrecks off Bermuda; although there is ample to eat, there is faction and dispute among the survivors. Foxcroft then sets out on a small vessel constructed from the wreckage, but only bits of it are ever seen again. Finally, in a larger ship, the colonists reach Jamestown, finding the settlers there decimated. Aware of the story of John Smith and Pocahontas, Serena decides to find the Indian maiden and beg assistance of her to help the starving colonists. She becomes part of a plot to kidnap Pocahontas, and is instrumental in the romance between her and John Rolfe. Serena marries; she and her husband protect Pocahontas in a sland-olf with the Indian; their cabin burns but all survive. Pocahontas notes that Serena is calm, while Pocahontas will soon be dead, and that the ring makes her calm. Serena throws the ring into the fireplace with vague regret. Later, news of Pochontas' death in England comes to the colony. This historical tale is at times confused--as with the factions in Bermuda--and at times disjointed. Pocahontas is right: Serena is too calm, and so dispassionate that we cannot really identify with her. Young readers might do better with Frances Mossiker or Jean Fritz as biographers.