Y.A. Historical Fiction (329 pgs.)
Sailing aboard her father's trade ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: Marry a man she doesn't love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty.
On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman sea claim her father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long since believed dead, and an anceint stone that weilds a dangerous--and alluring--magic.
The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness to find the enchanted stone. As she and Oscar elude murderous bushrangers and unravel Camille's father's lies, they come closer to making the ultimate decision of who--and what--matters most.
When I first picked up this book at Border's a week or so ago, I wasn't actually sure how this book would pan out for me. Sure, it was Y.A. Historical Fiction (one of my favorite genres), but the synopsis sounded kind of... well... weird. Just different.
But I made the decision to buy it anyway, and I'm so glad I did. Camille Rowen's tale of adventure on the high seas was really really exciting. The secenery in this book is brilliant. All of the marvelous locales in which this story takes place (San Fran, Australia, Hawaii) are really breathtaking. This book definitley takes you on your own mini vacation.
The characters were also written very well. Camille, despite her unfortuante circumstances, remains a strong heroine, who comes to realize that the only real path you can follow is the path your heart leads you on. Oscar remains undyingly by Camille's side, always there to protect her and defend her at all costs.
One character I really admired was Ira Beam. Camille and Oscar pick up this swindler with heart in Melbourne, AU, to be their guide in their travels across the continent. I loved this character because he reminded me of a certain someone... a certain Captain named Jack Sparrow. A quote, to prove my point:
'"Whiskey?" Camille cried as she stood on a wharf in Port Adelaide harbor. "You brought us onto a whiskey cargo ship?"
Ira spread out his arms. "And rum, love. Don't forget the rum."'
Coincidence or not? You decide.
The only thing that didn't strike a chord in me was the whole search for Umandu, the mystical stone of the immortals. For me, it really took a back seat throughout the book. When they actually finally reach the stone, the quest only took about 56 pages to retrieve it. Throughout the book, everyone warns of how so many people have died searching for it, but the quest itself seemed a bit anti-climactic. Just a bit. The 'magic' of the stone never really connected with me.
All in all, this book took me on a really great adventure. A good light read that's action packed. Be sure to pick this one up this summer!