After I had read James Norcliffe’s two novels about the Loblolly Boy I wondered how the Loblolly Boy had come into existence, who was the mysterious Captain Bass and what was the significance of the astrolabe.
If you are of the same mind read this latest novel and find out. Even if you are not this novel is quite fascinating and once you start it will draw you in and keep you hanging on till the story is told.
It is set in the Caribbean on the Spanish Main at a time when everybody was a pirate of some description whether you worked for the British, the Spanish or the French. Treasure was what mattered but in this case the astrolabe is the prize.
The War of Jenkins Ear between Spanish and British has occurred and the Spanish have beaten the British from their stronghold in the port fortress of Cartagena. I have been to Cartagena and you still have to watch your back. It was also the setting for the crocodile scene in the film Romancing the Stone.
Just about every character is a villain and the only innocents are the Loblolly Boy and the daughter of a female pirate captain, Sophie. Sophie can see the Loblolly Boy and only sensitives can. A ruthless sorceror from the netherworld called Mr Wicker has turned a young boy into the Loblolly Boy for his own ends. The Loblolly Boy is invisible to most mortals, is unaffected by weather, never eats and can fly.
The aim of Wicker is to reclaim the astrolabe from Cartagena because the astrolabe has the power to turn night into day and day into night while this occurs great mischief can be done.
The real star of this book is the storytelling power of James Norcliffe and the language that he uses. Norcliffe is not only a teller of great stories he is a wordsmith. His imagery, dialogue and description is outstanding.
Read it yourself. The ending is a big surprise.
For good primary and intermediate readers and secondary readers will go for it too.