Book Review: The Wreck of the Argyll, by John K Fulton

Publisher:  Cargo Publishing  |  Publication date:  24th September 2015  |  Edition: Paperback (Review Copy)

Wreck of Argyll Review

The Wreck of Argyll by John K Fulton CoverThe Wreck of the Argyll is a wonderfully thrilling story featuring an unlikely friendship and the endeavours to catch a German spy against all odds, which isn’t easy when you’re twelve years old!

There are two threads to this tale:  The friends’ adventure on land and their frustration when responsible adults refuse to take them seriously. Then there’s the ocean adventure of the crew of the HMS Argyll, a small ship that mustn’t fall into enemy hands under any circumstances and the dilemmas facing those on board.

We visit both journeys in alternating chapters and each is exciting and tense in its own right.

It’s 1915 in Wartime Scotland and Nancy fancies herself as a bit of an undercover detective. She suspects one of her teachers is working for the ‘other side’ and takes it upon herself to gather the evidence to capture him. One evening, when she’s following the alleged spy, she is involved in an altercation with some neighbourhood lads. That’s when she meets Jamie as he comes to her rescue. Yet their initial friendship isn’t entirely mutual.

Jamie wonders why a young girl is on the street at an ungodly hour and Nancy confesses her motives. Although a little reluctant to help at first, homeless Jamie shrugs aside any doubts as he nothing else left to lose. But before he knows it he finds himself involved in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

With HMS Argyll facing treacherous conditions and a mountain of communication difficulties hindering almost everyone, catastrophic consequences for the entire country seem unavoidable both on land and at sea – the story builds to quite a crescendo!

The marvellous nature of this tale is that it shows the extremes of life in 1915. Jamie lives rough after his father was killed in France and the lad found life with his mum strained. Midshipman Melville from the HMS Argyll is not much older and yet he faces huge responsibilities. Even restricted opportunities for ladies are touched upon (but it doesn’t always hold them back!). Plus, it’s fast-paced with some great dialogue exchanges and there’s the most fantastic conclusion to draw both journeys together. It really is quite a little gem.

The Wreck of the Argyll offers the perfect blend of perseverance, courage and skulduggery. It’s a snapshot of life in a bygone era where working together and having conviction in your beliefs can achieve more than anyone could ever hope for, despite the obstacles placed in your way.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.  (Okay, so it’s for children but I absolutely loved it!)

Rating: 5/5

(Massive thanks to Cargo Publishing and Gill Tasker for providing a delightful paperback copy of this book for review.)

Wreck of Argyll Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Dundee, 1915. Twelve-year-old Nancy Caird is desperate to do her bit for the war. So when she suspects one of her teachers of being a German spy, she is determined to foil his plans, and ropes in the reluctant Jamie Balfour to help her uncover the scheme. Midshipman Harry Melville is on his first voyage aboard HMS Argyll as it forges through the black and stormy North Sea, unaware of both hidden rocks and German plots that threaten the ship. When Nancy and Jamie’s suspicions are confirmed, and they discover HMS Argyll is in deadly danger, they are drawn into a web of espionage, secrets, and betrayal, where no-one is as they seem and no-one can be trusted.


Wreck of Argyll Author Links

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

John K Fulton is the son of a lighthouse keeper, and grew up all around the coast of Scotland. These remote and lonely locations instilled in him a life-long love of books and the sea. He studied at the Universities of St. Andrews and Dundee, and now lives in Leicester with his partner Sandra. While Leicester is about as far from the sea as you can get in the UK, their home is stuffed with books, which is the next-best thing.

The Wreck of the Argyll is his first novel, and is the winner of the Great War Dundee Children’s Book Prize.


Book Review: The Limits of the World by Andrew Raymond Drennan

Publisher: Cargo Publishing  |  Publication date: 2nd April 2015  |  Edition: Paperback (review copy)

Limits of the World Book Summary

The Limits of the World by Andrew Raymond Drenman

Pyongyang, North Korea, 2011. In a city full of lies one man seeks the truth. In Kim Jong-il s North Korea, Han, a lonely guide to foreign tourists, is rapidly ascending the party ranks and appears to be a model citizen. But when he is drawn into a secret underground book group by the enigmatic Mae, Han knows that in a country ruled by fear and suspicion – where lovers and neighbours denounce each other – it is only a matter of time before his double life is discovered by the ruthless Party elite. With no one else to turn to, he must do the unthinkable: risk his life by putting his trust in two undercover Western journalists trying to expose the regime, before the brutal realities of North Korean life catch up with him.

Limits of the World My Review

I’m so insignificant, sometimes when I get up in the morning and look in the mirror I don’t expect to see myself there.

Those words caused me to pause and hold my breath momentarily. This sentence conveys the candid despair the author has generated throughout this book.

Living under a dictatorship, Han’s remote existence in North Korea would seem inexplicable to the outside world where we have every freedom, including owning our choice of literature and not having a narrow selection imposed upon us.

Absolutely nothing we take for granted exists in the world Han lives in, being unable to speak his mind and living in constant fear of being reported to the authorities for doing so. The entire population is looking over its shoulder; while trying to convince their neighbour of their loyalty to the party and their ‘Glorious Leader’, another neighbour is enduring starvation. Yet suffering is kept under wraps by a controlling government to convince outsiders that all is rosy.

The fragile relationships that are forged by ministry official Han with his own neighbour, Mae, and the foreign journalists posing as ‘tourists’ – English Ben and American Hal, were perfectly honed. Han is confident in his work as a guide to the foreign tourists visiting his country, yet nervous of his emotions. As his character evolves, he’s learns to trust people for the first time since the death of his parents, and also to love.

With every word capturing the essence of fear and control, The Limits of the World offers a powerful snapshot of a place where no one would dare volunteer to carry the torch of hope. That is, until a ‘compliant’ citizen grasps the courage to dream and expose the awful truth, whatever the consequences.

This story is one that will stay with me. Memorable and highly recommended.

Rating: 5/5

(My thanks to the publisher for providing a paperback copy of this book for review.)

Limits of the World Author Links

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