THE SHIP OF SIGHT AND THE HAND OF SHADOW
The Natnat Adventures, Book Two
by Brydie Walker Bain
Middle Grade Adventure
A phone call before dawn launches Nat Sheppard into a world of intrigue that leaves her fighting for her life.
On a frozen winter morning Nat and her friends are invited to Ruapuke Beach to see The Ship of Sight, a legendary Viking ship that emerges every hundred years. With the Ship of Sight comes The Hand of Shadow - a task that must be completed within two phases of the moon in exchange for otherworldly gifts.
As the sun climbs into the gloomy sky, Barnaby climbs onto a sacred sand dune and uncovers a grave. One of the skeletons reaches out and puts a talisman in Nat's hand. It's her job to take it up the spirits' path and return it to its rightful place. Guided by Abraham, Nat and her friends race up New Zealand toward Cape Reinga in order to complete their mission.
But Drake, the villain Nat outwitted last holidays, has been waiting for The Ship of Sight to appear. Incensed at losing Sinbad's ancient treasure to Nat and her friends, Drake believes The Hand of Shadow is hers.
Nat has two weeks to get the talisman to Cape Reinga, or she's dead. And Drake will do anything to stop Nat completing her task.
Chucked full of history, myth and adventure, this story goes non-stop from beginning to finish and doesn't breath much in between.
Nat and her friends are headed off for another adventure as they witness a once in hundred year event--the emerging of a Viking ship. While continuing through the dunes, one of Nat's friends uncovers an eerie sight,, and Nat is given a talisman along with a task, one which has to be completed quickly to obtain the prize.
I did not read the first book in this series, but as far as the plot goes, that wasn't a problem. The adventure starts fresh and is easy to fall into without much background information. This is not, however, true for the characters. The first chapter includes Nat and all her friends, which is quite the group. It took a bit to figure out who was who, and I'm betting that if I'd read the first book this wouldn't have been a problem.
The story moves along at a steady pace, never allowing a boring moment to seep in. Nat and her friends go from one amazing event and twist to the next as they uncover the mystery surrounding the talisman and fight against their foe, Drake. It's hard to guess what will come next and the layers are well done, making this an exciting read.
The writing is great and fits well to readers ages 10 and above. Some scenes happen a bit suddenly and at times, a little more depth would have been nice, but in general, its a quick entertaining read, perfect for adventure fans.
The setting, New Zealand, is a sheer delight. The ocean, the scenery and the general surroundings are well described and easy to sink into. The extra dose of history and myths makes it especially interesting and a treat.
Summed up, this is a great read for upper middle graders who enjoy adventure, myth and mystery. Nat is a lovely character, easy to sympathize with and her friends are simply fun. I'm looking forward to where this group's adventures will lead them next.