Pearl of the  Seas

Pearl of the Seas

A fairytale prequel to 'Black Inked Pearl'

Young Adult - Coming of Age
112 Pages
Reviewed on 03/06/2017
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Gisela Dixon for Readers' Favorite

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.

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.

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.