CHIL­DREN’S book of the week

Coventry Telegraph - - FAMILY MATTERS -

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.

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