Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer
by William Summerhouse
Shake-A-Leg Press 9/14/2014
Age 8 to 12 284 pages
***Kirkus Reviews ~ “Orion is a smart, fun-loving boy whose bravery and humor marks him a timeless hero alongside Huckleberry Finn. Recommended for any young reader who loves adventure. A wild, imaginative adventure that explores the ends of the world.”
“Eleven-year-old Orion Poe lives with his stodgy grandfather in eastern Maine, where nothing exciting ever happens. But then a series of strange events draws him into the mystery of the lost explorer and Orion is swept up in a whirlwind of adventure that takes him to the top of the world. To survive he must outwit a scheming treasure hunter, team up with a gang of flimps, and take on a tyrant with an anger management problem. Can Orion solve the mystery and get back home alive? And just what are flimps?”
“If you read what Mr. Lumpkin wrote in the newspaper about my adventure at the top of the world, you only got half the story.”
Orion Poe finds a man thrown to the shores of Maine by a nor’easter who turns out to have been running from New Britain, a community at the top of the world. He leaves Orion with a map dated 1847 and written by John Franklin, an explorer looking for the Northwest Passage but disappeared with over 130 men and 2 tall ships. Franklin and his crew were never found.
A John Franklin is the governor of New Britain and a tyrant bent on total control of the inhabitants. He comes searching for the man who Orion found, murders him, and then ransacks Orion’s home looking for the knapsack Orion now has. After taking the map to a professor, the professor and Orion take off on an adventure to find the reason the man washed up on a Maine shore, what he was running from, but mostly, was the map pointing to the lost whereabouts of Franklin and his crew?
Based on the real John Franklin and crew who disappeared and never heard from again, Orion Poe and the Lot Explorer crashes history with adventure in a story difficult to put down. At first, the tall ship looking for the washed up man seemed to be a ghost ship, and it was in its own way, but also a real ship from the 1800’s traveling the current seas. Once at the top of the Canadian Arctic, time stopped for Franklin and his crew and he wanted no one to find out. This once amicable group now lived in tyranny and fear. With the professor and Orion making their way up to the arctic, Franklin’s fears become a reality.
I liked the high seas fighting that occurs and that the real travel times are observed. Orion doesn’t make it to New Britain over night but must face the rough unforgiving sea first. Once there, Orion spends time in the new city and we learn how they could pull off living in such an extreme environment and what year they believe it is: 2013 or 1847. There is also a darker side to this community where the entire group of cast offs are placed. Here a group of courageous kids is quietly fighting the tyranny of New Britain. This side story become important and is some of the best writing.
The edition I received has the author name of William Fourth. I am not sure why this was changed or when, but the real author name is William Summerhouse and many of the books list him as the author. I’m curious as to the change. Throughout the writing is crisp and clean. While reading, it felt like I was right there alongside Orion. Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer, book 1 in the Orion Poe Adventure Series, is Summerhouse’s debut and it will be a challenge to write a better story than this story of Orion. Wonderful first book by a promising young writer. Good fun for kids who love fantasy, historical fiction, and most importantly, the mash up of the two genres.
ORION POE AND THE LOST EXPLORER. Text copyright © 2013 by William Summerhouse. Book copyright © 2013 by Shake-A-Leg Press.
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Meet the author, William Summerhouse, at his website: http://www.willsummerhouse.com/
Thanks again, Sue, for another good review. You always do just a great job! This one sounds interesting. Will have to put it on the TBR in a couple of years list.
Like Robin, I’m curious about the name change, too. (Good scenario, Robin 🙂 ) I know I find seafaring adventures intriguing and often tense, simply because of the danger in traveling on the open seas. I know this book has gotten stunning reviews, so I’m thinking that, along with your very positive review :D, it’s worth a look-see! Thanks, Sue 🙂
It has gotten “stunning reviews.” Really? Crud, I hate being part of the status quo. I may need to take this off the Top of the Year category. 🙂 I really should read other reviews before writing mine. Then I would have known to skewer this book. My goodness, another good review.
The high seas adventures are not gut-wrenching but do have some perilous times. The main character uses a uniques sense of humor to keep the writing balanced. You would like it and survive those passages just fine. At least better than some of those on the ships. 😀
Hmmmm….maybe my recall is faulty? I could’ve sworn it was this book, but I could most certainly be wrong! lol I’m going to have to try to remember where I saw them! If I find it, I’ll let you know, my dear 🙂
I’ve since looked and Kirkus said Orion Poe was a modern age Huckleberry Finn. That pretty much says it all. But all those other reviews, at least the ones I saw after reading your comment, were good. And if it is good, who am I to argue. 🙂
LOL We all have our opinions! Isn’t that what this review stuff is all about? 😀 Anyway, I emailed with the link I found…
This sounds like a great book! 😀
You didn’t get this book? A few authors asked for other reviewers and I always recommend you. Maybe it wasn’t this book. You would like the book and, I didn’t know this right away, but the book is book 1 in a series. Come aboard Matey, you’ll enjoy the ride. 🙂
That sounds like a great book. I’m going to have to check it out. I’m fascinated by explorations of the North West Passage.
Apparently, and you probably know this, John Franklin was commissioned to find the Northwest Passage and he and his crew became lost. That is the basis of this story – turns out, well you’ll find out. 🙂
Great review, Sue! You have me intrigued about the name change. I wonder if he married and decided to use his significant other’s name. Interesting.
Even the books had the other name. The name on mine is William Fourth, but on all the others and the website it is William Summerhouse. Yeah, I’m interested too and should have asked. I’ll see what I can find out. I’m glad you like the review. It is easy to write when you like the book. 🙂