The Mariner's Curse
Ages 10 to 14
Tundra Books, 2004, $8.95, 0-88776-672-2
Rory Dugan has loved ships and the sea for as long as he can remember. At last he is getting the opportunity to go on a real ocean liner. Unfortunately the trip is his mother's honeymoon. She is now married to "Poundcake" Eddie, whom Rory cannot stand. With the constant bickering going on between Poundcake and Rory, the trip does not promise to be a calm stress-free time.
Rory is a shy, very quiet, bookish boy. After a dreadful accident when is little brother Ian died by drowning, Rory cut himself off from the world. He immersed himself in his computer, books, and his passion for all things to do with the sea and ships. Real people are too difficult for him to cope with, whereas imaginary ones are safe.
When the discordant family arrive on the ship practically the first thing Rory does is to knock over an old man by accident. Rory is very sorry and upset, and the old that he knocks down is furious. He is also frightening. There is something about him that is not right, something sinister.
It isn't long before Rory sees the old man (whom he calls "Seadog") again. Though the old man is more congenial he is still very strange. Rory finds him in the bowels of the ship and spies on him. What can the old man be doing down there? Who is he really and what is his connection with the legendary Titanic?
Confused at to what is going on on the ship, Rory then makes a friend. Lucy is a sparkling and outgoing girl, apparently fearless and eager to find out more about the mysterious Seadog. It is to Lucy that Rory goes when he discovers that the old man who calls himself "Morgan" is someone else, or rather something else, than he appears to be.
Caught up in events beyond his control Rory finds his thoughts drifting back to that awful day when his brother Ian drowned right in front of him. Somehow the goings on on the ship are tied to Ian's death and yet nothing seems to make any sense.
Suspenseful and even slightly frightening, this is a story which brings together the myths of the sea, the stories of famous ship wrecks, and the sufferings of a guilt-ridden heart. We watch as Rory struggles to put together the pieces of this peculiar and ultimately deadly puzzle. With great skill the author feeds us clues about the fearful "Morgan." We are drawn into this powerful tale and find ourselves hoping desperately that Rory finds the answers before he and everyone of the ship are wiped out by some malevolent force. Powerful and sometimes painful, this is a wonderful book for those interested in the sea and its mysteries.
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