Prairie Fire Review - Ghost Voyages III

Reviewed by: Sarah Klassen

Ghost Voyages III (Endeavour & Resolution) is the third in a time travel series for young readers. The first book of the series, Ghost Voyages, was originally published in 1992 but has been re-issued in a new series format by Coteau Books. In this first book, Jeremy Thorpe made an unusual discovery. By using old stamps and a magnifying glass left to him by his grandfather, he could mysteriously time travel back to the decks of various old ships. This premise is carried on in the sequels.

In Ghost Voyages, Jeremy was transported to the Northcote, a steamer on the South Saskatchewan River during Riel Rebellion of 1885. Later he wound up on the deck of the Nonsuch, sailing to Hudson's Bay in 1668. In Ghost Voyages II, Jeremy used the stamps to travel back to 1497, to John Cabot's ship, the Matthew, as Cabot sailed to Newfoundland and claimed it for England. He also visited the Bluenose in 1929. On these trips Jeremy encountered another time traveller who turned out to be his own grandfather! In each of these books, besides the time travel adventures, there are also present-day problems to be solved, involving Jeremy's great-grandmother, his parents (who are divorced), and Jeremy's poor performance at school.

Ghost Voyages III carries on from the previous books. This time eleven-year-old Jeremy flies from Edmonton to Toronto to spend a week with his father (whom he hasn't seen for six years) and his stepmother, Pam. Despite Jeremy's misgivings, the visit begins well until he accidentally overhears his father and Pam discussing the possibility of obtaining custody of Jeremy.

The time travel part of the story begins on the Bluenose, but most of the adventure occurs during the 1770s on the Endeavour and the Resolution, ships of the great explorer Captain James Cook. With Cook, Jeremy and another time traveller, Harv, travel to several exciting places--the stormy seas around Cape Horn and the Antarctic; the shores of Australia and Hawaii; and the coast of Vancouver Island. As a time traveller, Jeremy is invisible--a sort of ghost--but he is still vulnerable. He must keep out of the way of the ships' sailors and fears being shot or washed overboard. He is particuarly afraid of being left ashore, if he leaves the ship, as occurs in the incident when the natives attack Captain Cook. (Though he knows what will happen to Cook, he cannot prevent the tragedy.)

By studying school records and archival material at the library, Wart learns that the young ghost is six-year-old Archibald (Archie) Tortle, who had died in February, 1936, following an accident in which he and his parents went through the ice on the South Saskatchewan River. The Tortle family had been staying in the Bess at the time, and was scheduled to attend a performance of Gilgamesh. That evening Wart and Cindy again follow Archie to the hotel and are transported back to 1936, but this time the adventure takes some dangerous turns. Gilgamesh turns nasty, his ventriloquist's dummy talks on its own, and, worst of all, a horrible "monkey monster" named Eih Cra chases Wart, Cindy and Archie around the hotel.

Ghost Voyages III, with plots in both past and present, should be an interesting read for young people. It might also interest them in stamp collecting as a hobby, and in learning more about the travels and adventures of some of our explorers. It is not essential to have read the first two books to enjoy this one, as the author explains the time travel method and the previous trips, but because of the frequent references to the earlier stories I would recommend reading them in order, if possible.

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