Voyage North is the last book in the Ransome-inspired Strong Winds series, and is a 21st -century classic of grown-up children’s literature
Voyage North (Strong Winds series 7)
Golden Duck, £9.99
The seventh (and last) of what began over a decade ago as Julia Jones’s Ransome-inspired ‘Strong Winds’ trilogy finds its juvenile hero Donny far away from sailing a Mirror Dinghy on the Orwell, writes Peter Willis.
We’re now on a Russian oligarch’s militarised superyacht off Norway, and the status of Donny’s foes has similarly grown, from the suspect social worker and bullying policeman of The Salt-Stained Book to include the Russian President.
He’s unnamed, but the date, significantly, is 2012 – which was also the year of the London Olympics.
There’s a new cast of juvenile characters including a Greta Thunberg-inspired Russian teenage dancer, but some of the old Allies turn up, notably Anna who still manages to play a suitably Anna-ish role, using PR power to ‘spoil the summer’ of the aforementioned President.
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And even though the superyacht can virtually drive itself, there is some proper sailing, in which Maggi gets a chance to come into the limelight.
As usual, the plot is complex, the writing is urgent – and often humorous – and various forms of danger are never far away.
Ingeniously (Jones is never less than that) the main plot hooks around to link up with — and provide a solution to — the mystery surrounding the original ‘salt-stained book’ of the first volume of the series.
Now that the series is complete, it’s time to admire the achievement: It’s come a long way from its roots in Arthur Ransome, though hereditary links are never far below the surface.
With Jones’s dense and dynamic writing and her unfettered imagination, plus its eager engagement with the social zeitgeist of our times, the series deserves to be recognised as on a par with Philip Pullman and very much a 21st -century classic of grown-up children’s literature.
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