Welcome to the first stop on The Vanishing Island blog tour! Read on to enjoy the story's summary, meet main character Bren Owen, learn a bit about author Barry Wolverton, and enter to win a signed ARC!
Does the Vanishing Island really exist? And if so, what treasure—or terrible secret—was hidden by its disappearance?
It’s 1599, the Age of Discovery in Europe. But for Bren Owen, growing up in the small town of Map on the coast of Britannia has meant anything but adventure. Enticed by the tales sailors have brought through Map’s port, and inspired by the arcane maps his father creates as a cartographer for the cruel and charismatic map mogul named Rand McNally, Bren is convinced that fame and fortune await him elsewhere. That is, until his repeated attempts to run away land him a punishment worse than death—cleaning up the town vomitorium.
It is there that Bren meets a dying sailor, who gives him a strange gift that hides a hidden message. Cracking the code could lead Bren to a fabled lost treasure that could change his life forever, and that of his widowed father. But to get there he will have to tie his fate to a mysterious Dutch admiral obsessed with a Chinese legend about an island that long ago disappeared from any map.
Before long, Bren is in greater danger than he ever imagined, and will need the help of an unusual friend named Mouse to survive. Barry Wolverton’s thrilling adventure spans oceans and cultures, brings together the folklore of East and West, and proves that fortune is always a double-edged sword.
-Summary provided by Walden Pond Press
Introducing the hero of THE VANISHING ISLAND, Bren Owen.
By Barry Wolverton
Several years ago I read a story about Jules Verne, the great French adventure novelist. Legend has it that at age 11, young Jules tried to stow away on a ship bound for the Indies, only to be caught by his father and punished so severely that he vowed to travel “only in his imagination” from that point forward.
I have no idea whether that story is true or not, but I liked the idea of childhood misbehavior leading to something so profitable as the collected works of Jules Verne. (On an unrelated note, I was a terrible child.)
My hero, Bren Owen, is a headstrong 12-year-old boy growing up in the town of Map, on the coast of Britannia during my slightly skewed Age of Discovery. Bren's father is a mapmaker who wants Bren to follow in his footsteps. But Bren wants to chart his own course, and overhearing the tales of adventure by sailors passing through the port town of Map only stokes his adventurous spirit.
Aside from that, living in Map stinks — literally. Aside from the smell of fish, Bren and his father live in the town’s margins, where people dump their waste into the unpaved streets, and so do the horses. Bren has a nemesis in the form of Duke Swyers, a town bully who gets away with it because his father is Cloudesley Swyers, a wealthy purveyor of fine wigs and pomades. And finally, Bren’s mother died two year ago during an outbreak of plague, leaving him alone with a father he has little in common with.
So what does Bren do? What any emotionally lost preteen in the 16th century did - tries to stow away. His first two attempts were dismal failures, but Bren is convinced the third time will be the charm. It's not, and this time he lands in real trouble - a medieval version of Juvenile Court, which results in a medieval version of community service - spending the summer cleaning up the town Vomitorium, the concrete, windowless building where sailrs and gentlemen go after a night of overindulging.
How bad is it? “Map was a coastal town, and so clams, mussels and oysters were among the most common foods. Raw or barely cooked, these muscular, rubbery mollusks were natural drain-chokers — especially when clotted together in a thick chowder of puke. More than once Bren had to unclog the drain with his bare hands, lying on the floor and sticking his long, thin arms as far down as possible, which felt like reaching inside the guts of a dead animal.”
But, like young Jules Verne, Bren's punishment is life-changing. One day he meets a sick and dying sailor, using the Vomitorium for cover, who bestows upon Bren-in the most disgusting way possible-a strange gift that gives Bren the leverage he needs to finally escape Map and seek the adventure he desires.
Barry Wolverton is the author of Neversink. He has more than fifteen years’ experience creating books, documentary television scripts, and website content for international networks and publishers, including National Geographic, Scholastic.com, the Library of Congress, and the Discovery Networks. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee. You can visit him online at www.barrywolverton.com.
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For a chance to win a signed ARC of The Vanishing Island, simply leave a comment below telling why YOU want a copy of the book! Will it be a gift, will you read and review it, add it to a classroom library, hug it before bed each night, etc. A winner will be chosen on June 25th at 5:00pm eastern time. Check back no later than June 26th to see if you are the winner! A winner will be chosen at random and the book will be mailed directly from the publisher. If the winner is not able to be contacted by June 26th a new winner will be chosen. Thank you for stopping by!