Top positive review
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"Better drowned than Duffers . . "
on 11 June 2011
With its beautifully simplistic cover illustration 'The Salt Stained Book' could all too easily just blend in to the mass of children's books on the shelves today, but I'd urge people to at least look twice, as whoever picks it up will discover their very own buried treasure.
Donny is a young boy living with his Mother and Gran, but when his Gran dies the authorities begin to question Donny's mother's capability to look after him. So they both set off for Suffolk to meet up with their mysterious Great Aunt. On the way misfortune takes a hand, Donny is taken into care, and his claims of a `Great Aunt Ellen' coming to meet them are disregarded as a rescue myth.
What ensues is an archetypal adventure story as Donny is determined to meet up with his Great Aunt, and his new friends are just as determined to help him. Whilst also trying to outwit the authorities, including nasty Inspector (Captain) Flint.
This is very much an adventure story in the same vein as Swallows and Amazons, so not surprisingly it does heavily reference a few of Arthur Ransome works. Well if you consider that when she was a child Julia Jones' parents owned Peter Duck (one of Arthur Ransomes Yachts) you can't blame her for wanting to tip a nod to what must have been an amazing influence.
It is a fantastically absorbing read, even with the many sailing terms that landlubbers like me may not quite understand, (but which really doesn't take anything away from the story). The ending, which I won't give away, is such a marvellous `edge of the seat' piece of writing. You also have to admire the way the author elegantly manages to tie up all the important story threads whilst leaving a few tantalisingly dangling, ready to entice you into the next instalment.
The Salt Stained Book is the first in a series of three books called `The Strong Winds Trilogy', and I for one am hooked already