Pearl of the Seas

A Fairytale Prequel to Black Inked Pearl

Children - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
138 Pages
Reviewed on 09/12/2016
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Tshombye K. Ware for Readers' Favorite

A charming story of adventure between two children, and an unexpected union is developed. The adventure commences as the children engage in building a boat, with Holly, their dog. The story builds chapter by chapter, adding to the adventure, with a rhyming style woven into the plot. This will appeal to early teen readers as well as others.

The author's style is unique. The word choice used is children friendly in such a way that children of all ages will be able to follow the story with ease. I found myself smiling in delight at the dialogue between Kate and Chris. The author's descriptions were effective enough for the reader to visualize the story. That in itself is what makes a great story. The use of illustrations pulled the reader in deeply, allowing them to not only read but to experience the adventures with the children. If you're looking for a reader friendly story that touches the depths of your soul, this is definitely one of those books.

One of the poems within the story speaks volume, not of the story itself but of life.

"Life is short, but life is sweet;
and even men of brass and fire must die.
The brass must rust, the fire must cool, for time gnaws all things in their turn.

Life is short, but life is sweet:
and joy, and a bounding heart, to earn
a landfall sweet."

The ending is visual and emotionally driven. I suspect young readers will appreciate the style of this story.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Chris and Kate are best friends. They enjoy romping on the beach with their dog, Holly. When Chris constructs his own ship out of an old driftwood log, he insists that both Kate and Holly join him on an adventure at sea. Round the world he will go, to see all the wonderful places so far away. The adventure at sea becomes a dream and a nightmare all in one as the friends struggle to keep their ship afloat. The ship, named Pearl of the Seas, a name Kate aptly chose, valiantly fights the waves, but in the end the adventure takes the children and their dog to a place called Land of Where-No-Where and the King and Queen treat them as special guests. The children do return home and the adventure, it would seem, only took a matter of hours, where the adventure, they thought, had actually lasted over a year.

As children, we all had our special adventures, some seemed so real that we were sure they actually happened. Ruth Finnegan’s fairy tale, Pearl of the Seas, has some charm, and the plot certainly has potential. The most significant part of this story is the friendship between Chris and Kate, and their ability to create their own adventures with whatever they find along their stretch of the beach. This is a wonderful story to tell and I hope the author will work on it to make it flow more smoothly.

Deborah Lloyd

Ruth Finnegan wrote Pearl of the Seas: A fairytale prequel to Black Inked Pearl for “children of every age, above all to the starting teens.” The fictional story is about two children, Chris and Kate, who build a boat from a log. They and their dog Holly set off on an exciting adventure across the seas. This adventure is full of some challenging problems, as well as extraordinary and magical events. Chris and Kate even meet a wise King and Queen who impart knowledge, much of it from a metaphysical understanding.

Ms. Finnegan’s style of writing is quite unique, as she combines different styles in a smooth, seemingly casual way. The format includes melodious poetry, descriptive emotions, unspoken thoughts, and actual conversations. Frequently, she formulated new words to either add a sense of play, or to enhance a rhyming sequence. Parentheses and other grammatical forms were freely used to emphasize certain thoughts, or passages. Aspects of this fairytale are drawn from works of classical literature. All these techniques and meanings add significantly to the substance of this imaginary adventure.

For those who love magical and mystical writings, Ruth Finnegan’s Pearl of the Seas will be greatly enjoyed. One note is that this is not an easy book to read; it is a book that requires effort and commitment. Although the intended audience is the pre-adolescent, it seems many might not be interested in this work. However, those who relish an enriching book will love this one!

Romuald Dzemo

Pearl of the Seas: A Fairytale Prequel to Black Inked Pearl by Ruth Finnegan is an exquisitely exciting story for young readers, a tale of magic, love, and adventure, featuring compelling characters and set against the backdrop of a magical setting. But be careful, this isn’t a tale for young readers alone as it offers beautiful lessons for grown-ups too, like the magic that takes place when true friendship happens and how dreams can lead us back home to ourselves. When Chris, the pre-teen orphan, playfully decides to build a boat from driftwood, it just seems like a joke, but soon he and Kate and Kate’s dog, Holly, are seaward bound and carried to unnamed lands, facing manifold challenges. But it is who they meet on this adventure and the lessons they learn that will change their lives and dreams forever.

This is the second Ruth Finnegan book I have read and she doesn’t lose an ounce of her writing charm. I was immediately seduced by the language – and yes, it casts an irresistible spell – with the beautiful descriptions and this rare gift of penetrating the world of children. Something very unusual happens as one reads Pearl of the Seas: A Fairytale Prequel to 'Black Inked Pearl', because as one reads about kids on a journey towards an uncertain dream, one feels the call to seek out the child they have left behind, the child they once were. The characters will be loved by older and young readers, and although they are thrust into an unfamiliar landscape, they do seem to live just next door. This is a tale that is well-crafted, a hard-to-put-down story that will entertain and instruct readers. A book to make kids dream, filled with many lessons.

Hilary Hawkes

Pearl of the Seas by Ruth Finnegan is an extraordinarily unusual, clever, and intriguing book. The tale of two children caught up in what at first appears to be an imaginary seaside adventure, a voyage across the ocean in a ship made from a log and a lot of imagination, falling overboard, finding themselves in a mysterious land (is it Heaven?), tackling challenges and mishaps, and finding new friends, and themselves, along the way.

The story is intended as a prequel to the author’s Black Inked Pearl. Told in a delightfully original and creative style, linguistically it is a combination of poetry and fable, rich in metaphor, vivid imagery and clever use of vocabulary. Ruth Finnegan weaves quotes and poems from different writers and philosophers such as Rumi, Blake, Shakespeare and others into the tale in very fitting ways. This is a story that embraces and enjoys language and readers will experience the poetical and almost musical effect of the tone and writing style. I loved, for example: “Holly helping, yelping, yapping, hurray, soaking them both!” and “This time no clanging rocks or voicing songs or sea monsters or frightening fears. They flew with the winds.”

While Kate and Chris encounter their adventure, they learn about life and their own abilities. To me, Pearl of the Seas has a message that is a mixture of biblical parable, themes of faith and trust, along with fable, fun and the sense of delightful nonsense of magic and dreams. Primarily a great story with messages to ponder, perhaps for older more confident readers. But also a wonderful book for enjoying and exploring the use of language in a story too.

Charles Remington

Pearl of the Seas is a fairytale prequel to Ruth Finnegan’s novel Black Inked Pearl, with illustrations by Rachel Blacksall. It follows the adventures of Chris and Kate, along with Holly, a dog with magical powers, as they construct a boat from driftwood found on the beach and set off with Chris as the hero captain to travel around the world. It is a lyrical, magical tale full of allegory and metaphor, designed to be read out loud in the best fireside storytelling tradition. The trio are shipwrecked on an island governed by King Aahal of The Many Names, where Chris learns the story of how languages became confused and the world’s creatures could no longer communicate with each other, and where Kate teaches the island’s lions to communicate again with humans. Along the way, Chris and Kate’s experiences help them to learn about God, about loss and longing, love and joy, pride and humility. After a year and a day, they must leave the island, but with their precious boat, Pearl of the Seas, wrecked on the shore, can they ever get home again?

Pearl of the Seas is written in a stream of consciousness style which reminded me greatly of the work of James Joyce. It is a style that needs some application and is probably more in keeping with the spoken word rather than written prose. I can imagine Ruth Finnegan standing by a flickering fire in an old stone cottage, candles dotted around, telling her story with sweeping words and gestures to a rapt and wide-eyed audience. She hails from a land of folklore, myth and magic with an ancient oral tradition, the influences of which are obvious in her work. I enjoyed the book and can recommend it for a good ‘read aloud’ to your children, whatever age they may be.

Melinda Hills

Two children and a dog embark on a mystical, magical journey into the unknown of growing up in Pearl of the Seas: A Fairytale Prequel to Black Inked Pearl by Ruth Finnegan. Chris discovers a piece of driftwood and with Kate's help, his best friend for years, and her dog, Holly, digs it out ... only to discover it is a magic sailing ship. Chris decides to sail around the world and Holly happily joins him, but Kate is afraid and stays behind. Despondent without her friend, Kate encounters an old man, Yahwiel, who is a magical man of wisdom. He challenges Kate with some riddles and when she proves to be in search of wisdom, he sends her to the boat to join her friend. Chris and Kate encounter numerous difficulties on their journey and wash ashore with the boat heavily damaged. Finding an enchanting city with a King with Many Names and his Queen, they learn a lot about life, sharing and getting along with others. When their time is up in the land of Where-No-Where, the King and the Queen present them with gifts to help them on their way. Chris and Kate return home with Chris’ dream of sailing all around the world unfinished, but new happiness will be uncovered as Kate and Chris think about everything that has happened along the way.

Written in a very poetic style, Pearl of the Seas draws from numerous literary and cultural sources as well as African tribal tales and biblical inspiration. Ruth Finnegan delves deeply into what it means to be alive and a good person as Kate and Chris encounter many obstacles in their magical adventure. While the style can be a bit overwhelming at times, it reminds the reader of stories told in oral tradition intended to be learned as lessons. As a prequel to Black Inked Pearl, in Pearl of the Seas we meet developing characters who have some flaws. Kate seems to be rather weak and dependent on Chris, her Hero, who in turn can be rude and actually hits Kate in anger. Although these are images we don’t want our children to see, the important issue is how the characters get past the problems and come to terms with the realities of life. The story is wonderful and provides plenty of inspiration. This is certainly a story worth reading and Ruth Finnegan has included excellent questions at the end that can help parents or teachers discuss the content with their children.

Gisela Dixon

Pearl of the Seas by Ruth Finnegan is a children’s book and a prequel to Black Inked Pearl, written by the same author. Having read Black Inked Pearl, I actually enjoyed this book even more - probably because it is written for a younger audience and thus follows a more simplistic style. Pearl of the Seas also follows the magical adventures of Kate, Chris, and of course the dog, Holly. In this book, Chris and Kate are on the beach and find themselves on a ship by magic. Holly, the dog, of course is an integral part of their magic and accompanies them. Their sailing adventures thus take them through magical places, where they encounter a king and queen, lions and beasts, and more. Most of all, they encounter philosophical truths which turn them into who they are as they grow up and follow their destiny.

Pearl of the Seas is written in the same lyrical, part prose, part poetry style of Black Inked Pearl. The main difference is the writing is simpler and meant for older children or pre-teens. I loved how the young Chris and Kate are portrayed, which really helps to put their relationship into perspective once they are older. The illustrations in this book are a nice accompaniment to the text. My favorite part, however, was the little nuggets of wisdom throughout this story such as the riddles posed to the children. This is a fun and easy read and I would certainly recommend it for older children.