Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Review: The Boy, The Boat, and The Beast by Samantha M Clark

by Samantha M Clark
Paula Wiseman Books
Middle Grade Adventure/Mystery
 256 pages

The Graveyard Book meets Hatchet in this eerie novel about a boy who is stranded on a mysterious beach, from debut author Samantha M. Clark.

A boy washes up on a mysterious, seemingly uninhabited beach. Who is he? How did he get there? The boy can’t remember. When he sees a light shining over the foreboding wall of trees that surrounds the shore, he decides to follow it, in the hopes that it will lead him to answers. The boy’s journey is a struggle for survival and a search for the truth—a terrifying truth that once uncovered, will force him to face his greatest fear of all if he is to go home.

This gripping adventure will have readers hooked until its jaw-dropping and moving conclusion. Samantha M. Clark’s first novel heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice.


With hints of dark shadows, dangerous secrets, adventure and hope, this is a beautiful tale which places a boy against his deepest fears.

A boy is born on the beach. Probably not born but finding himself there with no memory of anything else is as if he was embarking on the world for his first time. All he knows are the fears surrounding him—in the forest and in the water. Only on the beach is he safe...and not even there. When a mysterious light flashes a few times and disappears, he grabs at the hope that his true life and parents exist and simply need to be found. And so his journey begins.

This isn't a normal tale, which becomes clear when reading the first page. The writing opens up to a very mysterious and artistically described world. Nothing is clear, allowing the boy's confusion to seep through while joining his longing to figure out who he is and where he belongs. It touches the heart and draws in, allowing the reader to completely sink into the boy's fears, hopes, dreams and determination.

The writer has excellent control of the middle grade voice. Each sentence fits perfectly to the boy, how he thinks and how he views things. There's a haunting hint of fantasy while reality glides just outside of the attainable distance. The battles the boy faces are vivid and his fears completely understandable. He does the best he can with the knowledge he has, making his thoughts a logical pole even in the chaos. It's a lovely mixture which keeps the tension high as he makes his way across the island and faces monsters which are worth being afraid of.

The end wraps the story up nicely and brings the necessary sense into the entire book. It's at the end when the boy's journey, his fears and his battles truly are understandable and gain a somewhat logical footing. It's an emotional moment, where the artistic side of the rest of the book meets a well grounded point.

This is a wonderfully written book which takes a deep look into fears and describes a touching journey as a boy learns to face them. It is, however, a story which follows a more dreamy direction where the basic foundation itself is the mystery. While the book is a literary gem, I'm not sure many middle grade readers will enjoy it. But when the right ones get their hands on this book, they are in for a real treat.

And here she is...

Samantha M. Clark loves stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances because if four ordinary brothers and sisters can find a magical world at the back of a wardrobe, why can’t she? Until she finds her own real-life Narnia, she writes about other ordinary children and teens who’ve stumbled into a wardrobe of their own. She grew up in different countries around the world and now lives with her husband and two funny dogs in Austin, Texas. Samantha is the regional advisor for the Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and she explores wardrobes every chance she gets. Visit her online at SamanthaMClark.com.

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