“Please Nathaniel. It’s been two years. He’s not coming back,” my mother begged.
“How can you give up on him?” I yelled.
Nat’s heart tells him his father survived the shipwreck. But where is he? Why has he left Nat and his mother to a pauper’s existence in New Bedford? Then Nat receives a package from his father, one that had been stolen and delivered years late. One containing treasure. The accompanying letter indicates that his father may be alive on an island in the Atlantic, but none of the sea dogs in New Bedford’s harbor believe in the island’s existence. None of them but the one with hard, snakelike eyes…
Nat eventually persuades an old family friend to make the voyage, but he accomplishes it with deceit. As they sail, Nat’s dishonesty grows and broadens, finally enmeshing him in a murderous scheme. How did a simple lie grow so monstrous? Will it cost him the very things he holds most dear?
Sea Cutter is a cleanly-written adventure with lots of positives. It celebrates truth, family, friendship, honor and forgiveness, and it does so with a LOT of excitement. Mr. Davis has, in particular, a flair for creating danger. He’s a master of foreshadowing, and each chapter ending leaves Nat in impossible scrapes. The tale twists and turns in some unexpected directions, but some well-planted clues help us guess at others. Boys especially will eat up the exploits of this swashbuckling, brave young hero.
Mr. Davis has excellent writer’s instincts. Many of his passages are brilliantly-written. Other areas feel a bit rough. But do I think kids will notice as they’re busy dodging sword blades and escaping the locked holds of a ship? No, I don’t.
***Since writing this review, parts of Sea Cutter have been revised. I downloaded the new version to read aloud to my boys and I couldn’t find any trace of the rough areas I once bemoaned. In fact, I was struck again by sections of absolutely beautiful prose. On this basis, I’ve got to up my recommendation!
Visit Timothy Davis’ website.