Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Fiction
Marooned is an adult version of the “choose your own adventure” books that were popular several decades ago. Set sometime between 1500 and 1850 – a time that can be further narrowed to 1650-1725, for those thinking this specifically occurs suring the golden age of piracy – you are the main character and depending on which path you follow, you will find yourself immersed in one of three storylines.
The story begins with you – no age specified, but old enough to travel alone (which may or may not be the wisest decision you make) – bound for London on a bumpy carriage ride. Your queasiness is a small price to pay to be the first to hear your cousin’s adventurous tales of life at sea, now that his ship has come home. Your task is to bring him back to his mother, your aunt, and you have just enough money to get there, feed the two of you, and return whence you came. But the docks of London are a scary place, especially for someone as naive as yourself. Luckily, James arrives just after you alight. What you don’t expect is that he isn’t too keen on the idea of returning home. Instead, he wants a drink and a woman, which leaves you with a decision to make: join him at the pub, immediately drag him back home, or venture into a mysterious brothel.
The shortest story line, and the one I tended to find myself on more than once, places you aboard a Royal Navy frigate. You may volunteer or you are forced, but for better or worse, you’ve taken the king’s shilling and must now do as you’re told. You may find yourself on the lower decks amid a host of others, or you may be on the path to become an officer. Whichever path you select, it is but the first of many dangers you will encounter. Some result in your demise; others lead to glory and higher rank. It just depends on the choices you make.
The second story line lands you aboard a merchant ship, bound for the colonies. You may have signed aboard willingly or been seized by crimpers. This leads to a fork in the road, so to speak, that will take you on an adventurous journey or lead you to the dark side, where mutiny and piracy abide. There’s even a murder mystery to solve.
There are occasional lapses in historically correct dialogue, where a modern word slips in (for example, rubber-necking), which may jerk you out of the story. There are also subtle toasts to people who have influenced the author, such as the frigate HMS Hornblower, Vice-Admiral Maturin, or a sailor/pirate named Rediker. The history of the time period and pirate life demonstrates a significant amount of research, and the ingenuity required to craft a well-told book like this is remarkable. Even the myriad deaths you might experience come straight from the past and the dangers of life at sea in the Age of Sail.
Schannep does provide hints as to what path you follow – anchors, skull and crossbones, and palm trees – but you’ll probably find yourself too caught up in what’s happening to pay much attention to these and not all pages have them. For those who have read previous titles in the series, there are references to those books in this one and he dares you to find them. While some pages overlap in the story lines, you eventually find yourself on a unique path.
Once you begin Marooned, you’ll find yourself unable to put it down . . . even if you die. After all, with more than fifty possible outcomes, you just have to explore them all.
Review Copyrighted ©2019 Cindy Vallar
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