CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 11. . . .November 13, 2009
Lynne Kositsky’s newest novel, Minerva’s Voyage, is an exhilarating adventure story replete with shipwrecks and treasure hunts. The adventure starts in England in 1609, when the newly homeless Noah Vaile, an orphan, petty thief and truant, is snatched off the streets and employed by the devious William Thatcher, whose bad hygiene and crude behaviour has earned him the nickname Scratcher. Scratcher renames his new employee Robin Starveling and drags him onto a ship of colonialists bound for Virginia. Robin soon discovers the real reason why his employer is onboard this ship: Scratcher is on a treasure hunt, and he has manipulated the witless colonial official Sir Boors to order a change in the ship’s course that will take Scratcher closer to his true destination, the Isle of Devils. The exact location of the treasure is hidden in a series of coded illustrated verses that Scratcher has not yet broken. Robin and his young friend, the honest cabin boy Peter Fence, secretly decide to solve the codes before Scratcher. Unfortunately, the verses are thrown overboard during a terrible tempest, and the ship is wrecked upon the Isle of Devils. Luckily, while being stranded on the island, Robin discovers the trunk holding the verses has washed ashore. Fence and Robin are able to solve the puzzles, but their treasure hunt turns dangerous as Robin and Fence are pursued by Scratcher and his murderous fellow conspirator, Proule. Robin and Fence manage to escape Scratcher and Proule, only to discover that the treasure map actually leads to the hiding spot of a shipwrecked man who claims to be the rightful king of England. The novel ends as Robin, Fence, the claimed King, and a friendly sailor set off in a small boat to start a new life together.
Overall, the book is well written. Robin’s first person narration often uses language that is old-fashioned and out-dated, which has the effect of making his character seem believable and authentic. At the same time, the diction in the book stops short of being cumbersome; it does not impede the narrative flow or the comprehension of the modern reader.
Beth Wilcox is a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature candidate at the University of British Columbia.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.