I haven’t read a fiction book in a while, it seems, but Castaways of the Flying Dutchman is definitely a good one to get me going again! In this tale, Bryan Jacques weaves a story of a young boy named Neb, and his dog Den, both slaves on the ship the Flying Dutchman. It’s an entertaining read that held me until the very end.
When the Flying Dutchment is turned back from passing Tierra del Fuego, in South America, the captain, Vanderdecken, curses God and the weather. As a result, God curses the Flying Dutchman, and dooms all of its crewmen to everlasting life piloting the ship. Neb and Den, because of their apparent innocence, are washed off of the ship, but are given immortality and told to help others.
They cannot stay in one place forever, but must go around the world bringing good. They first travel to Luís, a poor shepherd that lives alone on Tierra del Fuego. They live with him for a few years, but are told by an angel that they must move on when they hear a bell. In a large storm in which Luís dies, a ram comes trotting toward them, his sheep bell ringing. They move on to another place, after burying Luis.
The book then skips in time from 1670 to around the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. We then find Ben and Ned (their names reversed) in a small English town named Chapelvale. Here a substantial bulk of the book takes place. They must save Chapelvale from being bought and converted into a limestone factory. Through a series of clues, they must prove that Mrs. Winn is in fact the owner of the entire village and can keep it alive. But when a bell rings, Ben and Ned know they must leave again.
The entire book is very good. I’ve heard it’s a series; I would definitely read another book like this. The storytelling is masterful, and while I have some problems with the angels and supernatural part of it, the book has a good story and it’s definitely an enjoyable read. Brian Jacques characteristic riddles and songs are in it, as long as signature touches of his writing that make this book reminiscent of the Redwall series.
Published on 12 October, 2010. Last updated on