Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Chasing the Phantom Ship

Publish August 12, 2016

Chasing the Phantom Ship by Deborah Toogood is an adventure story in the tradition of the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. Four children — Matt, his cousin Adam, his best friends Danny and Emma — set out to solve the mystery of a burning ghost ship seen off the coast of Nova Scotia. They brave dangerous tides, high waves, midnight boat rides, and ruthless poachers, breaking all the safety rules their parents have drummed into them. But it’s all worth it for the sight of the beautiful three-masted schooner that appears burning silently before them, a beacon from beyond the grave. Amid all the excitement, the characters ring true to life. Danny has a bit of a swagger that doesn’t quite mask his insecurity, Emma is very practical, and Adam looks frail but has hidden resources. And Matt is a courageous, but very human hero who resents his younger cousin tagging along and stumbles into danger by not paying enough attention to time and tides (they get stranded on a rock with a high tide coming in). The ghostly sequences are well portrayed, with spooky tension and a good dash of the unexplained. There were some elements of violence in the book that some readers might have difficulty with: in a struggle on the boat the children overcome the adults a little too easily to be realistic, and then they leave one of the villains to drown. But apart from this, the story works well, and Toogood keeps the reader guessing as to the true nature of the ghostly apparition. Her depiction of the ocean and the seashore speaks of a deep love of the Atlantic coast. This is a great summer read for children who are lucky enough to spend time near the water, as well as for those who can only daydream about it.    

Chasing the Phantom Ship

Deborah Toogood
Nimbus Publishing
ISBN 13: 978-1-77108-382-9