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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too short
This is a wonderful story and I don't understand why the author chose to write it as a novella. The plot had so much potential that it's a shame it was cut short before it really got going.

The main character, Dmitri, or `D', is a foster child, and the first half of the story focuses on D's attempts to settle into a new life with his foster mother. This brings...
Published on 20 Jun. 2012 by Moonless

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE QUEST FOR FULFILMENT
Under Brooklyn's Prospect Park the dead cannot rest. For two centuries tormented souls of war victims have awaited deliverance - other souls determined to thwart, they as racist now as then. Caught up in the struggle are an unlikely threesome - eleven year old black Dmitri, school basketball champ Moslem Keem, punk Nyla. Spurring them on is talking bird Nuru...
Published on 25 April 2012 by Mr. D. L. Rees


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too short, 20 Jun. 2012
By 
Moonless (London Town) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ship of Souls (Paperback)
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This is a wonderful story and I don't understand why the author chose to write it as a novella. The plot had so much potential that it's a shame it was cut short before it really got going.

The main character, Dmitri, or `D', is a foster child, and the first half of the story focuses on D's attempts to settle into a new life with his foster mother. This brings its own problems of life without parents and trying to be accepted in a new school. He is unexpectedly befriended by cool but kooky Nyla and the school's basketball superstar and heartthrob, Keem.

Keem has his own problems to face as a Muslim in post-911 America while Nyla - pierced and fierce - gives D the friendship he desperately needs.

The story then takes a strange turn when we are suddenly thrown into a fantastical, magical tale. Here, the three protagonists fight evil to save hundreds of lost souls who have languished in the depths of New York for centuries. This part of the story is also well told, focusing on the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan, a graveyard for hundreds of free and enslaved Africans, which was discovered in 1991.

It feels as if there are two disparate parts to this story; both would work well as individually told tales. The fantasy part about the African Burial Ground which also includes the American Revolutionary War as a backdrop, uses an important part of American history on which to base the story, and it would have been great to expand this further.

Overall, I enjoyed this story very much. It was well-written, thoughtful and original. Just a shame that, at 118 pages, it felt pretty rushed and seemed to gallop through to the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE QUEST FOR FULFILMENT, 25 April 2012
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Mr. D. L. Rees "LEE DAVID" (DORSET) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ship of Souls (Paperback)
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Under Brooklyn's Prospect Park the dead cannot rest. For two centuries tormented souls of war victims have awaited deliverance - other souls determined to thwart, they as racist now as then. Caught up in the struggle are an unlikely threesome - eleven year old black Dmitri, school basketball champ Moslem Keem, punk Nyla. Spurring them on is talking bird Nuru....

An intriguing theme, its three central characters full of potential. Unfortunately the novel's brevity (barely 120 pages) proves a problem, many readers perhaps wishing for more fleshing out. They may also have difficulties with the "I" narrative, its style hardly that of a boy of eleven.

Although at times magical and moving (as with the ghost of young soldier Billy), for me the story's main impact was in its early pre-fantasy stages. Take, for example, when "freak" Dmitri is confronted by a school bully, Keem unexpectedly intervening to declare, "He's with me." In an instant Dmitri's life is transformed - he no longer prey, but protected property. Here is a moment that rings true, such instances less evident elsewhere.

An uneven tale - certainly not disliked, but perhaps not liked as much as one would wish.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not entirely convincing, 31 Aug. 2012
By 
Tim Roast (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ship of Souls (Paperback)
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This is a fantasy novel set in New York. D is a foster child having lost his mum to cancer, and never knowing his dad. One day he discovers a magic bird that needs him to help her save the lost souls of many dead people who have been prevented from making the final journey on the "ship of souls".

For me I was alright with the beginning of this book which introduced the back-story, D, his friends and his family circumstances, but then the fantasy elements came in and I was a little unconvinced by it all. Maybe that was because the magic bird was such a weak character (in my eyes at least) lacking a clear mission and a clear identity. Also D at the end of the book decides he has nothing to live for which was surprising given the promising life it looked like he had ahead of him, so I was unconvinced by that too.

Perhaps if the book was fleshed out it would have been better, so D's life would have looked worse and the danger parts could have been more suspenseful. As it was those parts were over in an instant. Reading the blurb suggests there is a lot going on but the full story is squashed into not far past 100 pages.

The book was still ok, but could have been better.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Teaching you a bit of New York's history......, 7 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Ship of Souls (Paperback)
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A short book (124 pages) aimed at older children and young adults, this is D's (Dimitri's) story about the ghosts/souls of black American slaves in New York. D, a black child, has been left alone when his mother dies from cancer, and he is fostered by an elderly white foster mother. He's bright, a maths whizz kid, but considered a bit of a freak. But at his new school he makes two new friends - Nyla, a hard faced girl who has travelled the world with a military father, and Hakeem, a muslim who is going to be big in basketball. When it becomes clear that the three are dealing with something bigger than all of them, the adventure begins.

I was not particularly taken with the style of writing, but I believe that is because it was written to appeal to readers of 10 plus, but also to listeners from around age 8. So it does seem rather niaive. But it's easy to read, and the story grips and takes you with it. I am sure it was written with schools in mind, for it seems a good teaching tool, and the discussion topics at the back of the book (which of course I didn't see until the end) confirm that. Whilst this would probably be more interesting for American readers, based on a chunk of New York's history I knew nothing about; it does stand alone as an adventure story with a touch of magic built in. If it does no more than make a child eager to learn about this historic subject, it will be worth it, and a good starting place is to google the African Burial Ground National Monument.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Moving, 29 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Ship of Souls (Kindle Edition)
I was glad I got this book. It was deeply moving and unlike any thing I have read for a while. It explores death, release, acceptance and purpose.

This would suit teenagers upwards, the discussion points at the end inspire further research into the historical subject matter.

I managed to get through this in just a few hours.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 24 May 2012
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Amazon Customer (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ship of Souls (Paperback)
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A real page-turner. I didn't expect it to be a paranormal heaven/hell story and I actually preferred the first half of the novel, before Dmitri finds the bird/angel.

Nevertheless, the tale rumble onward with Dmitri and his two friends entering the the lair of the eternal dead and fighting for their lives.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky yet touching story, 25 Feb. 2012
By 
AR (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ship of Souls (Paperback)
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At 118 pages, this is a short book, a novella, and is a quick and engaging read. Set in New York, the story follows D, a young boy who is taken into foster care when his mother dies of cancer. A lonely child, D spends a lot of time in the park birdwatching. But his life changes when he encounters a strange bird who leads him on a mission to help the lost spirits that are trapped in the city.

D is very intelligent, and is soon hired to tutor the school basketball star, Keem, as well as being befriended by the beautiful Nyla. Their relationships are at the heart of the story, and this is really the central theme, the idea of belonging. The friendship between the children is very touching, as all three have troubled pasts and families.

The introduction of the mysterious bird brings an element of magic realism and fantasy into the plot. Combined with a bit of history - about the Revolutionary War and the slave trade - a unique story emerges. However, it would have been much more interesting if the writer had developed it a little bit more; the story could easily have accomodated another hundred or so pages, and it would have helped some parts of the tale be less one-dimensional.
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4.0 out of 5 stars thoroughly enjoyable read, 18 April 2012
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This review is from: Ship of Souls (Kindle Edition)
I read this story in its entirity on a train journey from bristol to manchester and found it to be very enjoyable. The pace was snappy and and the story moved along nicely but there wasn't much in the way of exploration of the characters. Probably aimed at a young adult audience.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight, 5 May 2012
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D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ship of Souls (Paperback)
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Told in the first person by 11 year old main protagonist Dmitri, a black orphaned loner, `Ship of Souls' tells of his relationship with 2 other main persona, Hakeem a Muslim sports star and Nyla, something of a misfit punk, and it describes the magical adventure they share. All are appealing characters and they display endearing levels of compassion. `Ship of Souls' seems targeted at age 10+ years and there is much to inspire children as the trio meet adversity, share troubles, support one another and win through. It is a short story (118 pages) which leaves some loose ends, mainly from the initial chapters before fantasy kicks in, but it makes for a quick engrossing read that ends too suddenly. In addition to the gripping adventure (no spoilers in this review) author Zetta Elliott introduces information on race, religion, slavery, history etc. which again should stimulate readers. These are heavyweight subjects, but unfortunately due to its brevity `Ship of Souls' is somewhat lightweight.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 29 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Ship of Souls (Paperback)
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This was quite accomplished. There were some well drawn characters, an interesting storyline and its heart was in the right place.

Maybe it would have better as a longer novel and it seemed a lot more of a children's book than a young adult one.
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Ship of Souls
Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott
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