cover image The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship

The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship

Philip Pullman, illus. by Fred Fordham. Graphix/Fickling, $19.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-338-14912-8

Washed overboard when a storm hits her family’s sailboat, young Serena Henderson is saved by John Blake, a mysterious teenager aboard a time-traveling ghost ship called the Mary Alice. Elsewhere, investigator Danielle Quayle and British navy commander Roger Blake seek to learn more about John and the strange timepiece he carries; a tech billionaire, Carlos Dahlberg, is also after John—with darker intentions. Once John reveals to Serena the secret that he knows will bring the billionaire down, the story shifts into high gear. Outside of some well-timed assistance from Serena, it’s the men who get to have most of the fun in action scenes ranging from hand-to-hand combat to the dramatic disarming of a giant missile. The graphic novel format lets Pullman’s (the His Dark Materials series) dialogue shine, and Fordham’s lucid panels are strong, legible, and charged with energy. Originally published serially by the Phoenix in the U.K., the adventure reads like a tautly paced film script. While the story isn’t as wildly imaginative as some of Pullman’s previous work, it will undoubtedly hold readers’ attention. Ages 8–12. (May)