Blackwells and the Briny Deep

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Do you hear the distant drums? And what about that weird screaming …

Emma Blackwell used to love mermaids. Jonah Blackwell used to love pirates. And William Blackwell tried to be a good captain. Which he would be, if he could get his twin brother and sister to stop fighting long enough to sail their boat, the Peregrine, across the bay. But after the Blackwells see a phantom ship, barely survive a terrible storm, and then mysteriously wake up with seaweed in their mouths, everything changes.

They’re becalmed in fog. They run aground on a strange island. They hear distant drums, and their weird adventure begins! The Blackwells face zombie pirates, terrifying mermaids, and a shipwrecked group of cursed ship’s figureheads, including a Roman gladiator and an English knight, all led by the strange dolphin-boy, Finn.

It’ll make a great sea yarn one day, if they can just survive it.

Genres: Historical Fiction / Fantasy

Author: Philippa Dowding

Paperback, 144 pages

Published: September 29th 2018

Publishing House: Dundurn

My Review

What a crazy adventure! Imagine a leisure sailboat outing gone wrong. With thrills from zombie pirates and monster mermaids to cursed figureheads and wandering sea spirits on a shipwreck island…it is all part of the Blackwells adventure!

The siblings William, Jonah and Emma are about to embark on a short sailing trip across the bay to meet their father. As with many siblings, they have their little quarrels…especially twins Jonah and Emma.
Packed with coolers they are getting ready for the trip. Almost immediately after stepping onto the Peregrine, Emma trips and her beloved conch shell she had found in Florida falls overboard…and nobody was able to catch it before it hit the water. Perhaps if that didn’t happen, their day would have turned out normal

After they finally left the shore, Emma sees a hand smothered in seaweed poking out of the water, holding a conch shell. Could that be hers? And whose hand was that?

Suddenly a storm is brewing and their sailboat is enveloped in fog. Out of nowhere comes a large brigantine with black tattered sails over the horizon, directly at them. The Mermaid Queen…and it was on fire too!

As the radio equipment and cellphones fail the Blackwells, and a strange boy hops onto the Peregrine to steal their flag, the adventure only begins for the three of them. This was not what they had expected, and each of the siblings has to find their way to make it back after getting separated and stranded on a mysterious island.
How will this all end? And what does a dolphin have to do with it all?


This was quite an adventure. Tying in myths and a few teeth grinding moments, it made this a fun and addicting book to read. I bet any upper elementary kid would love this quick paced and exciting story

At the end of the book, the author makes reference to famous ghost ship stories like The Flying Dutchman and offers a glossary of basic boating terminology.

Very fun, not too scary. Definitely right for young readers that love adventure as well as reluctant ones as the content is jam packed and enthralling to read.

I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you!