It has been some time since I have read and reviewed a novel for young readers (in the ages 9-13 category), so I was pleased to get this Advance Reading Copy (ARC) from Nimbus. It is number 5 in the Dylan Maples Adventures by Shane Peacock, but this is the first one of the series I have read. If the four preceding installments were of the same calibre as Phantom of Fire, then these are books your young reader will enjoy. I know I really liked this one; it reminded me so much of the Hardy Boys mysteries I read as a child only updated to the present day. [perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”Dylan Maples” link=”” color=”#022F45″ class=”” size=””]”Nothing weird ever happens in New Brunswick.”[/perfectpullquote]
As this story begins, Dylan is in a bad place mentally. His good friend Bomber tragically died in a head-on collision (apparently in #4) and Dylan still hasn’t come to grips with it. The school year has just started, but it is not the same without his best friend. He even drops out of playing hockey, a sport he and Bomber played together. Fortunately, Dylan has two good “parental units” who discern the need to get Dylan away on a vacation (with no smartphones) to help him grieve and recover a bit of his old self. He spends too much time in his room, which is unusual for him. So they decide to take Dylan on a trip to New Brunswick where they have friends who live in Bathurst. Dylan has a nose for mysteries that have previously taken him to other parts of Canada.
“You wouldn’t think there’s much mystery or excitement in Canada, period. It’s got that sort of vanilla reputation. But there is. Canada is weird. Trust me.”
However, nothing weird ever happens in New Brunswick thinks Dylan. Then, one day on the beach, Dylan sees the Phantom Fire Ship of Chaleur Bay.
While he’s in Bathurst, Dylan meets Antonine, a girl his age who has seen the fireship, and who has recently lost her father in death. These two loners eventually become friends and try to unravel the mystery. Along the way, they butt heads with a local politician Jim Fiat who seems to be too good to be true and find a strange piece of wood in Antonine’s fathers shed.
“Why would your father hide a half-burned piece of wood in his shed?”
“We both know why,” said Antonine. She stopped and sighed. “Somehow, it’s from the phantom ship.”
Highly recommended reading, for Phantom of Fire is not just a fun story, for there are subtle lessons on coping with death, making new friends, respecting the opposite sex, discovering one’s heritage and so on. Plus, it’s set in New Brunswick where weird things happen all the time!
Phantom of Fire: A Dylan Maples Adventure by Shane Peacock
*Phantom of Fire will be published in July 2019. You may pre-order it now at Amazon.ca using the link below. Please note if you choose to purchase this book through Amazon I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: https://amzn.to/2S1BbXJ Thanks!
James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. He began TMR in 2015, realizing that there was a genuine need for more book reviews of Canadian literature. It has since become Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases. James has been interviewed about TMR on CBC Radio and other media sites. James works as a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist and lives in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.