By: Ruth Finnegan
Publisher: Balestier Press
Publication Date: January 2018
Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko
Review Date: June 24, 2020
At first glance, Voyage of Pearl of the Seas, written by accomplished British author Ruth Finnegan, appears to be a simple children’s short story about a boy, a girl, a dog, and a boat they built from a log. However, readers will quickly discover that this story is so much more, as they embark upon a marvelous adventure that is part fantasy and part parable, all interconnected by a mix of intense poetry and prose.
Voyage of Pearl of the Seas is a prequel to the adult novel, Black Inked Pearl, however, it was written a few years after the original novel, and targeted primarily for older children. Friends Kate and Chris, and Kate’s little dog Holly, happily spend their time at the seashore frolicking in the sand and water until, one day, Chris discovers a piece of driftwood in the sand and manages to convince Kate it could be made into a boat. So together they spend what seems like forever building the piece of wood into an impressive ship with masts and sails and, after a bit of arguing, they agree upon naming her 'Pearl of the Seas.' Around the world they go, as they bravely sail along, running into disaster and coming across beings, both magical and royal. The magical challenge Kate with riddles, encouraging her along the way, while the royals tell magnificent tales of a time when all animals understood each other's languages. In the end, after what seems like a year and a day, something truly extraordinary occurs between the children, all in time for their evening tea.
While the message being conveyed in Voyage of Pearl of the Seas is one of friendship, adventure and perseverance, there is a critical issue to be noted in this book. It is not a typical children’s or young adult book. If you’re looking for an easy read, look elsewhere. While the overall plot is a fantasy-based story, brimming at times with vivid descriptions making the reader feel as if they’re on the ship riding next to the children, the wording is also intense and requires quite a bit of concentration to fully comprehend. The author reports that this is partially inspired by such notable authors as Homer and Wlliam Blake, but sadly in this era that relies heavily upon video and technology, many children (and some adults!) have not been exposed to such writing which may lead to some reading frustrations. Of course reading of all authors, genres and writing styles should be strongly encouraged for all ages, and this book may be the gateway to getting someone interested in expanding their reading horizons. The author does however include a “Notes” section at the back of the book that corresponds to a few specific chapters explaining some of the references to other notable works, which was a bit helpful, but would have been appreciated more by this reader had it been located at the front of the book. However, armed with the aforementioned knowledge, readers are encouraged to give Voyage of Pearl of the Seas a chance by sailing through some possibly rough reading waters, and landing on a great tale with a heartwarming ending.
Quill says: Voyage of Pearl of the Seas is an epic sailing adventure that is sure to delight seasoned readers of all ages.
For more information on Voyage of Pearl of the Seas, please visit the author's website at: www.ruthhfinnegan.com