AOS Book Reviews


This section contains reviews of books by David Hayes and members of the forum

Review: Song of the Mokihana by T. D. Matzenik

Song of the MokihanaSong of the Mokihana is one of those interesting books that, whilst about sailing ships, are set in a different time period to the majority. In this case 1914. Set in the Pacific islands of French Polynesia the book is a romantic thriller that explores the tensions in an area which whilst remote from the conflict of the Great War is affected by it.

The schooner Mokihana is captained by Henry Keenan, who is half american half Polynesian, with an american mate and a native crew. It visits the French islands where if finds some shipwrecked germans, including Matildhe Kolbe who also has some Polynesian ancestry. In the dying days of both the age of sail and the war the author has weaved an intricate and gripping plot in which all the characters seem to have their own conflicting agendas from their ancestral and national loyalties.

For those not familiiar with the Islands, Matzenik's narrative gives you a real feeling for them at this time icluding the social attitudes and mores that existed between the natives, half castes and the various European powers. The author's descriptions of life aboard the Mokihana will be enjoyed by age of sail enthusiasts but it will also appeal to fans of many genres or those who just enjoy a thoroughly good read.



Review: Remember the Raisin by Michael Aye

Remember the RaisinIn his new book Remember the Raisin, the first of a new trilogy about the War of 1812, Michael Aye explores the fighting in the North West. The book is mainly land based however it includes a good description of Commodore Perry's defeat of the British on the Great Lakes.

Aye developed an interesting principal character, Jonah Lee, who as the 'President's man' is tasked with ensuring the army under General William Harrison takes the fight to the British. He is present at all the major actions of the campaign. As a naval literature fan I have read a few books about the Great Lakes campaign, however Remember the Raisin puts it within the wider conflict which made it an interesting and informative read.

The book appeared to be well researched and the plot flowed well as it linked the various battles together. As you would expect from the author of a naval fiction series the Lakes action was well written and I look forward to reading more of the wider conflict from the perspective of Jonah Lee. Recommended.


Review: A Love of Adventure by Joan Druett

A Love of AdventureJoan Druett is an award winning author, and you only have to read A Love of Adventure to know why. I could hardly put it down and I think I'm right in saying this was her first novel when it was originally published as Abigail.

It is the story of a young lady, born and raised at sea in the Pacific, who is eventually sent to relatives in New Bedford and must then find a way of getting back to New Zealand to claim her inheritance. The book displays a wealth of knowledge about whaling and life at sea in the period as well as being someting of a murder mystery novel. It has extremely well written plot lines which weave various aspects together well in an unpredictable manner. There are a lot of characters and all of them came accross as well rounded and believable and they interacted with each other well.

I can only say this is highly recommended reading.


Review: Bloody Rain by Rick Spilman

Bloody RainTo set the stage and develop the plot of a gripping murder mystery within the confines of a short story takes a master storyteller, and that's what you have in Rick Spilman. In his short story Bloody Rain: Murder, Madness & the Monsoon he does all that as well as bringing to life a merchant ship in the days of sail.

The action mainly takes place in the Hooghly River of the city then known as Calcutta, India, and the sub title 'Murder, Madness & the Monsoon' sums up this short story nicely. Spilman's love and knowledge of the sea and the sailing ships of the era shine through this fast paced read which was hard to put down.

If you want a 'quick fix' of nautical fiction this one is a must. Highly recommended.


Review: Turn a Blind Eye by Alaric Bond

Turn a Blind EyeAlaric Bond's new novel, Turn A Blind Eye, moves away from his 'Fighting Sail' series and the Royal Navy to the world of smuggling on the South Coast of England. It follows Commander Griffin and the crew of the Revenue cutter Bee as they battle to rid Newhaven of an entrenched gang of snugglers who hold sway over the town.

Bond is a master storyteller and he weaves a well written plot that explores the divided loyalties of the townsfolk who support small scale smuggling but are fearful of the gangs strength. The narrative vividly recounts life in a small fishing town where the Revenue men seek to combat a practice that is draining the country of money to fight the war against France and even sometimes supplying the enemy, whilst their fast agile cutter is often outgunned by the smugglers.

As usual Bond's research shines through as he subtly educates us about smuggling in a fast paced hard to put down book. Highly Recommended.


Review: Admiralty Orders by M. C. Muir

Admiralty OrdersIn this the third book of Under Admiralty Orders - The Oliver Quintrell Series M. C. Muir continues to develop old and new interesting characters who do not follow the norm of most naval fiction adventures.

Gibraltar has a walk on part in many naval fiction novels, however in Admiralty Orders it comes centre stage as Quintrell and his crew are sent to join the defences as war with Spain looms. While plague depletes the garrison and population of 'The Rock' during 1804 and the resultant quarantine cuts off help from the Mediterranean fleet Quintrell must offer what assistance he can to defend the colony.

As you might expect, this novel is mainly land based but it is good to read about the realities of life in this tiny outpost of vital importance to the Royal Navy. The true events of 1804 are woven into a well writter and believable plot. I continue to enjoy reading Quintrell's adventures and look forward to the next in the series Coins for the Colony. Recommended.