Shipwreck Island by Struan Murray.
The breathtaking adventure continues in the sequel to the much-loved Orphans of the Tide.
Orphans Ellie and Seth have crossed an endless ocean in search of freedom and peace.
Arriving on the shores of a colourful tropical island ruled by a mysterious queen, it seems they might just have found the perfect new home.
But there is trouble brewing in paradise and soon Ellie and Seth find themselves caught up in a dangerous struggle for power - and forced to confront terrible truths from their past . . .
It has been a couple of weeks since I actually read Shipwreck Island and I have needed that time to fully appreciate what I have read. I loved Orphans of the Tide; in fact it was my favourite book from last year (and one of my favourite books of all time). I also had the joy of reading it to my class in the autumn term and seeing their excitement and shock at various moments in the book (chapter 15!). It caused a lot of book buzz which was brilliant to see.
So it was with some trepidation that I started reading Shipwreck Island. Could it do justice to such a brilliant predecessor? Or would I get that feeling I have sometimes had when listening to that 'difficult' second album by a band I have loved? Well my first feeling as I delved into the book was relief: it was good. The relief slowly turned to excitement as I got further and further into the story and found I couldn't put it down: It wasn't just 'good' it was 'great' and at least on a par with Orphans of the Tide (and possibly even better!).
The story picks up shortly after Orphans of the Tide finished and we find Ellie and Seth in a boat heading towards what they hope will be another island. Soon enough they find 'Shipwreck Island' and are taken by the unfamiliar friendliness of the place. There welcome is a real contrast to 'The City'. As the story goes I enjoyed seeing a new location and enjoyed finding out more about the past of the island. One of my favourite parts of Orphans was Hestemayer's diary which added to the mystery and build intrigue into the main story. Here Struan Murray uses the same device by including another diary, this time someone called Leila who was a passenger on one of the ark ships at the time when the world had been flooded. I loved this and it allowed us a glimpse into the past of this strange flooded world.
I don't want to go into the story too much because just like Orphans of the Tide I think it is probably more enjoyable if you don't know much before reading. What I will say though is that this book is full of twists and turns and unexpected events that surprise and delight, even more so than Orphans. The story is perfectly paced in my opinion, initially drawing your attention to the differences in Shipwreck Island and then expertly drawing you into mystery and intrigue and finishing at a rapid pace after falling headlong into another fantastic adventure.
There is a new array of characters to get to know as well (as well as getting to know some familiar ones in more detail) and there are some very entertaining scenes between this new selection of people that Ellie finds herself surrounded by. I particularly liked Molworth who is the child owner of the pub that Ellie and Seth stay at. He adds just the right level of comedic lightness to the story.
I loved this story, and I hope others will feel the same way. It is definitely not the 'difficult' second album, more the crowning glory that builds on a brilliant debut and shows that here is a writer of rare skill that will hopefully go on to delight and entertain us for years to come. There is only one thing I found frustrating about Shipwreck Island and that is the ending. I won't spoil the book by telling you anything about the ending-it is dramatic on a cinematic level and is brilliant, but the frustration comes from the feeling I got when I got there: I wanted more. I wanted to read on and on and not stop this adventure I had become so engaged in. The frustration comes from the feeling that I will have to wait for book 3. Struan Murray you are a brilliant writer but by writing such a brilliant second book you have pulled a cruel trick in your readers. I want to know what happens next. I want book 3 now!
Shipwreck Island comes out on 4th March 2021 and is sure to be as big a hit as Orphans of the tide. If you would like to buy the book (you should, you really should!) here are a couple of links for places you can get it (or better yet, buy it from an independent bookshop directly).