An engrossing fantasy, a high-seas adventure, an alternate history epic—this is the richly imagined and gorgeously realized new book from acclaimed author Barry Wolverton, perfect for fans of John Stephens's the Books of Beginning series. It's 1599, the Age of Discovery in Europe. But for Bren Owen, growing up in the small town of Map on the coast of Britannia has meant anything but adventure. Enticed by the tales sailors have brought through Map's port, and inspired by the arcane maps his father creates as a cartographer for the cruel and charismatic map mogul named Rand McNally, Bren is convinced that fame and fortune await him elsewhere. That's when Bren meets a dying sailor, who gives him a strange gift that hides a hidden message. Cracking the code could lead Bren to a fabled lost treasure that could change his life forever, and that of his widowed father. Before long, Bren is in greater danger than he ever imagined and will need the help of an unusual friend named Mouse to survive.
The Vanishing Island (Chronicles of the Black Tulip #1)Featured
What I Loved:
The premise of THE VANISHING ISLAND is incredible. I love the mystery behind the Black Tulip, the magic, and the great legends. The mystery of Marco Polo’s journey is especially intriguing, and readers will easily ooh and ahh over the clues as the story builds.
The world building is strong and believable, crafting a setting that seems somewhat familiar and calm but is somehow still ripe with magical possibilities. Map is the kind of teaser town one can easily imagine a young person like Bren feeling trapped in; few opportunities exist for him, yet he is surrounded by explorers making pit stops and telling fantastical stories like those he reads about in his adventure novels.
What Left Me Wanting More:
While I understand Bren’s general motivations, I still had a hard time connecting with him. His character feels surface level, and though he does develop throughout the story, he still seems flat and a bit predictable. The plot is a little slow going at times, which may contribute to not getting a fuller force of Bren’s internal growth as there are fewer areas for his actions to give notice. Secondary character Mouse captured my interest much more easily, and Mouse’s own mystery is sure to keep readers turning the pages. The ending does give hints that a deeper course may await Bren the next book.
Though I found it difficult to connect with Bren, the enchanting premise and awesome world building make this a delightful read, perfect for eager young explorers.