- File Size: 456 KB
- Print Length: 263 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1979811687
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Crooked Cat Books (January 16, 2018)
- Publication Date: January 16, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B077D5BN1P
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
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Whales and Strange Stars: An Adventure Kindle Edition
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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In the sleepy waterside hamlet of Wych Ferry, fifteen-year-old Rosamund Euden lives in the Tradewinds Inn with her two uncles, Burto and Joss, and a guardian. Burto is a ferryman taking passengers across the waterway, while Joss transports goods along the river in his boat the Belle Isle.
Most of the uncles' business comes from transporting goods for the mysterious Mr Antonius. The book opens with Joss transporting a sea captain up the river; this captain stops at the inn and fills Rosamund’s head with tales of adventure. She dreams of a world outside of Wych Ferry, so when she overhears confusing whispered words of magic and the devil her mind works overtime. She finds a useful confidante in Mr Littlebourne, the local Squire, but little does she know that the snippets of information she diligently writes down for him will put her uncles in grave danger.
I loved the way in which the author made the period and the setting come so alive in this book. Joss’ almost human connection to the Belle Isle was a delight; they sailed hand-in-hand up and down the river, knowing every curve and mud bank, in tune with the river's flow. At this time, smuggling was a constant way of life for many, as the king continued to raise taxes to fund wars in the Americas. The narrative alludes to dubious business dealings by the Euden brothers, supported by more than one skirmish, but it isn’t until the very end that Rosamund and the reader are given confirmation of the trouble her uncles had got themselves into.
This novel is an interesting snippet of life in a quiet English river setting, with some lovely descriptive passages about the life of ordinary people during this century; I was absorbed into the period. The title made me think the book might be about adventure on the high seas (something about the whales!), but I believe it is more a symbol of adventure instead. Even though I was surprised by the content I still enjoyed it very much.
Rosamund, eager to learn more about the outside world begins to eavesdrop on conversations between her uncles, the housekeeper and Mr Antonious. Talk of devils and magic soon set her imagination into over-dive and she fears that her uncles are mixed up in some form of black magic. Mysterious things soon start to happen at the Inn where they live and she fears for not only her own safety but the safety of her uncles. Fear combined with excitement that such things are happening right under her nose, she secretly conveys those fears to Mr Littlebourne who insists she write down everything she hears and gives him the documentation. Rosamund is relying on Mr Littlebourne to help her uncles when the time is right. However, not all is as it seems as Rosamund will soon find out. Superstition and fear will confuse and upset her and change her life.
I'm really conscious about giving too much more away about the story. Kathy Sharp has created such an idyllic setting along the riverbank and I absolutely adore the characters of Joss and Burto. Both have very opposing views on how Rosamund should be raised but between themselves and the guidance of Ms Eliza, they provide a warm and loving home for Rosamund, albeit it a little restrictive, failing to recognise that she is no longer a child. Joss in particular was a firm favourite of mine. His on-going love affair with his boat the Belle Isle and his ability to read the river are just lovely. A man who prefers his own company he is a lovely gentle character, if not a little cranky at times when that solitude is disturbed by the outside world. Burto, the more level headed of the two and the ideas man is a perfect complement to Joss.
When I was considering how to word this review I was worried that the review wouldn't do this book justice. Its quite a unique type of book that meanders along like the ebb and flow of the river tides in the book. Filled with secrets, mystery and the carefree and easy way of life along the riverbank in a time when business and hard work meant the difference between surviving or going hungry. The hint of something mysterious going on in the background is tantalizingly dangled in front of the reader, leaving it a difficult book to put down. The pacing of the book is just right and like the river, it will take you where you want to go, but in its own time and own pace. Really looking forward to reading the next book in the series as I enjoyed this book so much. Highly recommended.