The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman (review)
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Reviewed by
Pullman, Philip The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship; illus. by Fred Fordham. Graphix/Fickling/The Phoenix/Scholastic, 2017[160p]
ISBN 978-1-338-14912-8 $19.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 5–10

Several story threads come together in this cinematic graphic novel. A time-traveling schooner, the Mary Alice, arrives just in time (but not at all by accident) in 2017 for crew member John Blake to rescue Serena, who’s just been tossed out of her father’s boat during a violent storm. Meanwhile, power-hungry Carlos Dahlberg, inventor of the apparator communication device (think very, very advanced smart phone) is in a race against the descendants of Blake and his captain to locate the Mary Alice: the good guys want to assure the lineage of their forebears, and Dahlberg wants to destroy those same persons, who hold a dark secret concerning his business history. The cat-and-mouse chase and ultimate explosive showdown come vividly to life, deviously and economically plotted by Pullman and accentuated by crisp yet eerily atmospheric art by Fordham. If there’s a downside to the production, it’s the possibility that Pullman will leave this story (which has been reillustrated from an earlier British version) done-in-one, with so many time-traveling possibilities and so rich a cast of characters yet unexplored. The mixed cast of adults and teens and the blockbuster-movie vibe will draw an audience across a broad swath of ages, and Pullman fans will cheer his success in his U.S. graphic-novel debut.

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