CHILDREN’S book of the week
THE ADVENTURES OF JOHN BLAKE: MYSTERY OF THE GHOST SHIP by Philip Pullman, illustrated by Fred Fordham, David Fickling books, £14.99
FOR those awaiting Pullman’s The Book Of Dust, a follow-up to His Dark Materials trilogy, graphic novel The Adventures Of John Blake proves a welcome – if tangled – stopgap.
A ship (The Mary Alice) travelling through time, shrouded in fog, collides with an Australian teenager thrown overboard while sailing around the world with her family, and a billionaire businessman, who has created ‘apparators’ – social tech devices that can do “everything – more or less”.
John Blake, meanwhile, is something of a maths genius and is strangely connected to The Mary Alice.
Fred Fordham’s murky, intricate illustrations are shadowy and detailed, if a bit flat at times, but are particularly spectacular when depicting the Mary Alice at open sea.
The plot is convoluted and meanders, the layers of social media critique and history (there’s a Roman mechanic onboard the ship for instance) blurring and confusing at times, but it’s intriguing nonetheless.