From the author of the famed novel, Titus: Comrade of the Cross, comes a tale of adventure, mystery, and romance at the end of the 17th century. Prisoners of the Sea, by Florence Kingsley, has only recently been brought back into print by Lamplighter Publishing as part of their Rare Collectors Series.
King Louis XIV is upon the throne of France. He has declared Protestantism illegal, causing many Protestants, such as the Huguenots, to flee rance for Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, and even the New World. Among these refugees are Madame de Langres and her charming daughter Madeline, as well as young Henri Baillot, Comte de Lantenac.
However, a fierce storm finds these three, a rough, weather-beaten sailor named Winters, and a black man named Cato stranded in the middle of the ocean with no knowledge of their surroundings. A providential encounter with a deserted pleasure yacht results in the discovery of a mysterious island that appears to have been abandoned suddenly and inexplicably. They find a great castle, richly furnished, but no sign of life or hint of their whereabouts.
This is only the beginning of their adventures. When Baillot is mistakenly kidnapped in the middle of the night and spirited away from his companions, a series of strange and exciting events begins. Baillot must wade through mishaps and misunderstandings to rescue his friends and the woman he loves, while the rest struggle for survival on the mysterious island. They will face pirates, convicts, hunger, and adventure, while their paths will cross over one of the greatest mysteries of their time. Will Baillot and his friends ever be reunited, or will fate and danger separate them forever? Will they ever unfold the mysteries of the island or find their way to freedom in America?
Prisoners of the Sea contains a wonderful array of beautifully crafted characters. Baillot is definitely a classical hero, with his determination, faith, and unwavering love. The incorrigible sailor, Jack Winters, comes close behind Baillot in my list of favorite characters. His sense of humor is delightful, as is his childlike faith that develops towards the end of the book. Madeline, though a somewhat stereotypical 19th-century heroine, is so sweet, and her constancy and goodness make for a beautiful model. Kingsley also presents some wonderful "bad guys" that you absolutely hate and yet feel sorry for at the same time.
Overall, this book was a fantastic read that I wouldn't mind experiencing again! I spent some very fun afternoon hours with my coffee mug and Henri Baillot. The story was exciting in itself, but the very way that Florence Kingsley puts it in words makes it even more thrilling. Her descriptions are imaginative and picturesque, often making me feel like I was there and could see it for myself. She also bounces back and forth between Baillot's and Madeline's storylines in such a way that always kept me at the edge of my seat, usually switching settings at a very exciting part. The historical twist at the end is also fascinating-- so fascinating, in fact, that I decided to look it up online and found myself entranced in the mystery that is historically unsolved to this day.
Prisoners of the Sea is not laced and empowered with deep spiritual content like George MacDonald's books, but it is an interesting and inspiring portrayal of the faith of the Huguenots of the late 17th century, especially as the story occurs as a result of the Christian's pursuit of freedom of religion in the New World. The Christian characters display steadfast faith in God and love even to their enemies.
Those of you who enjoy a good adventure written in delightful style will love Prisoners of the Sea. It is a wonderful read for a winter day, and one which you hate to put down!