A Dylan Maples Adventure, Book 1
Finished: Mar. 31, 2011
First Published: 1999
Genre: children, mystery, ghost story
When we pushed off from the shores of Random Island the water was calm and friendly.
Acquired: Borrowed a copy through Inter-Library Loan.
Reason for Reading: I was visiting the author's website and looking for news on his Boy Sherlock series when I took a look at his list of books written and saw that he had a short but interesting backlist of titles. One being this four book mystery series that sounded very Canadian and very interesting so I immediately decided to read it.
Dylan Maples is twelve. His dad is what one would call an extreme outdoors man or adventurer. He's always off somewhere mountain climbing or kayaking across some lake "in the Yukon or Alaska or Timbuktu". If he's not doing it, he's either immersed in reading or planning it. In real life he's lawyer. At this point in time Dylan's dad (and mum, as where he goes she goes) is planning to kayak across to a tiny island called Ireland's Eye, which is off the coast of Newfoundland and Canada's most eastern point. This Island is actually a ghost town that once industrialization hit the mainland in the fifties the government basically forced the inhabitants off the island and the population went from 200 to 16 in a few short years; and then there were none... The trip is planned for next summer and Dylan intends to go with them but doesn't say anything. Instead he spends the whole year 100% committed to swimming lessons, the swim team at school, running, working out, kayaking with his dad in a pool *and* studying hard to get the best grades he's ever had. His parents realize how mature he's grown and OK the idea when Dylan finally broaches the subject of coming with them when the time for the trip nears.
What follows is an adventure story taking place over several days of kayaking along the coast of Newfoundland to a certain point. Then kayaking across the Atlantic Ocean on what starts off as a beautiful sunny day but turns into a heavy rain storm. Once finally on the Island, as they explore the ruins Dylan feels something is not quite right. There is a small element of the supernatural involved as Dylan has dreams that he sees his grandfather who recently died and wonders if the eerie feeling he has about the Island is connected to him in anyway. And why did the old fisherman on the mainland warn him not to go to Ireland's Eye.
This is a fast-paced adventure with plot running the story from the opening chapter which foreshadows events to come. It's a good kid's adventure with all the ingredients of a "Scooby-Doo" mystery. The mystery is summed up quite interestingly but there is still a tickle in the air about what exactly can be explained away. I really enjoyed that Dylan's partners in this mystery were his parents. Dylan has a typical tween's feelings about his parents, which he expresses in his thoughts but he has a good relationship with them and respect is shown by all towards each other while the parents remain in the parental role.
Finally, this book had me so curious about Ireland's Eye. There is a map of the Island at the front of the book and for some reason that made me think it was a fictional place. I read too much fantasy I guess, they often have maps at the front. Obviously, I'd never heard of the island before but I hadn't been reading long before I had to stop and find out the truth about Ireland's Eye and see it for myself. Indeed, it really is a true ghost town island and you can visit a great site about it at the Maritime History Archive. If I ever make it to Newfoundland for a trip, I know I must plan a trip out to this island. I'd love to read a book that took place in the heyday of the island's history.