The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship

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Adventures of John Blake, Mystery of the Ghost Ship

Philip Pullman is breaking into the graphic novel business, and he's bringing the accomplished Fred Fordham with him.

The hardcover GN releasing in May is THE ADVENTURES OF JOHN BLAKE: MYSTERY OF THE GHOST SHIP, which leads me immediately to think there's more to come than what's just between the covers herein. And what an adventure it is! Pullman wastes no time establishing the eerie legend of the Mary Alice, a ghost ship that appears in the fog, and the demon boy in the red shirt that accompanies it. The sightings go back for centuries, but it's a story that has its origins in the early days of the twentieth century, and involves no less a personage than Albert Einstein.

When young Serena's father decides that he can sail a boat around the world, with his family in tow, their boat runs into a storm that sends Serena overboard. But she's pulled aboard the Mary Alice by young John Blake, sometimes known mysteriously as "the boy in the red shirt." While aboard, Serena becomes part of the crew while they labor to return her to her family. However, it's a matter of getting the ship to travel to the right time.

Yes, the right time. The Mary Alice is crewed by men from all eras of history, from ancient Rome to the twentieth century. And there are people who have made it their mission to track these sightings and try to predict the next appearance. One of these is a member of the British Admiralty, another is a worker at the International Maritime Organization, and a third is a billionaire who made his money selling a next-generation iPhone equivalent that nearly everybody has.

Two of these people want to help Jack.

The third wants to kill him.

The pacing of the story is relentless, pulling the reader inexorably toward the ending as soon as the first page is read. And Fred Fordham's draftsmanship is beyond exquisite. There's no cartooning here -- no exaggerated expressions, no contorted face or forced perspectives. It's the perfect blending of story and artwork for an adventure novel, a sort of "Treasure Island" for the modern generation of young readers.

Put this one in your Amazon pre-order list now, because you're not going to want to waste a minute getting this one into your hands and into your head.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0