- Paperback: 296 pages
- Publisher: Golden Duck (UK) Ltd (2 July 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1899262261
- ISBN-13: 978-1899262267
- Product Dimensions: 18.6 x 2.4 x 13.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 473,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Black Waters (Strong Winds) Paperback – 2 Jul 2015
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Top Customer Reviews
This time the main character is Xanthe, and seeing the world through her eyes transforms her into a fully-rounded character (it's a pity that Ransome didn't do the same for Nancy). With the main character being a girl, there is a risk that many boys won't consider reading this book unless they've already read the earlier ones, but I'm confident that those who have read them and know Xanthe already will not make the mistake of letting something like gender put them off - Xanthe makes every bit as good a role model for a boy to follow as a girl, for she is a racer with ambition, and she also cares about other people (including those who have been unkind to her). Xanthe's age will likely tune this book more to the teenage reader, but again I can imagine younger readers enjoying it too if they've read the earlier books, and they will doubtless find Xanthe inspiring - while she makes an awful mistake at the beginning (which is only human), she has to try to find a way back from there and overcome the odds to do so, but I'll leave all of that for the story to tell.Read more ›
When she moves on to the very rich, depicted as spiteful, venal and utterly uninterested in normal laws of human behaviour the apparent bleakness of this novel is complete. But there are other characters, white and black, young and old, happy and completely desperate, who move the story into a different realm. It may not ever be heart-warming, but it has a powerful rallying cry. The good people are prepared to fight, and fight they must. It's the fifth book in a series, inspired by the works of Arthur Ransome, who was anything but 'just' a children's writer. He was a war correspondent and a spy who married Trotsky's secretary. I think he would be entirely delighted with Black Waters and the other books.
Black Waters is the story of how Xanthe regains her confidence and grows in maturity, teaching traumatised children to sail, and coping with racial bigotry and internet trolling.
This sounds a trifle worthy, but Black Waters is a beautifully written, fast moving and complex tale; a mystery adventure of the best sort. It includes a strange family feud in the lonely and mysterious Essex marshes; a touch of the almost supernatural; as well as gangsters, inappropriate land development, unexplained deaths – and of course sailing.
Definitely Julia Jones’s best book to date and there is certainly no need to read the rest of the series to appreciate it. Xanthe is older than the characters in the previous books so although a sophisticated ten year old may enjoy the story, I think that it is really ideal for twelve year olds and older. As an adult I loved it.
There’s obviously a strong (and very welcome) element of homage to Ransome in this series – not least in the beautiful cover, maps and other illustrations by Claudia Myatt – but Julia Jones’ style and themes are very much her own, and have a keenly contemporary feel. I can’t think of any other recent examples of children’s fiction which explore the outrageous acceptability and persistence of rural racism. While Black Waters draws nicely on the actual history of the Essex marshes – it starts with a quotation from Margery Allingham’s memoir The Oaken Heart recalling the not always successful participation of local sailors in the Dunkirk rescue operation – this is pointedly woven into the present, encouraging readers to think about the relationship between wealth and power that has not diminished since those times. If the ‘baddies’ in this novel are perhaps a little one-dimensional, and some fairly complicated plot-strands a little too neatly and swiftly dealt with at its dramatic finale, the more complex characterisation of the ‘goodies’, particularly its black British heroine, offers ample compensation.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very well written and interesting book. Really enjoyed it. Whole of 'Strong winds'series is good.Published 13 months ago by Carmen
I eagerly downloaded this book and got started.... it was hard to put it down and now I am disappointed that I have finished. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Erik
I’ve read all the rest of the Strong Winds series, but you could start here without feeling you’d missed out as it works well as a standalone. Read morePublished 21 months ago by C. Wight
The fifth in the Strong Winds sequence, this is indeed a tough book dealing with tough – and urgent – questions. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Neil Sydenham