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The Island of Adventure by Enid Blyton

Created: Sun Mar 21 13:12:13 2010 | Last modified: Sun Mar 21 13:15:41 2010

Rating: ******----

The Island of Adventure

The Island of Adventure is probably one of Enid Blyton's most thrilling adventures. Meant for slightly older teens (13 and above) this adventure novel has all the elements that make it an instant classic: four children, a sinister manservant in a decripit castle set in a gloriously rugged coastal region, a gloomy island where (apparently) bad "things" appear, and a mysterious stranger whose purpose is not revealed until the end of the story. What else would you want, as a kid?

Unlike most Enid Blyton books, this one doesn't start off with "known" characters. Even the initial chapters are quite different and well handled, although devoid of serious action. But once the pace picks up, the story is extremely gripping. A short summary:

Philip Mannering is working hard at his schoolmaster's house during the holidays (much to his dismay) and he longs to return to his home with his uncle and aunt who live at Craggy Tops, a castle-like abode on the coast. He gets acquainted with another student, Jack Trent, who has an adoring sister, Lucy-Ann and a pet parrot, Kiki. Soon they become fast friends. Unfortunately for Jack and Lucy-Ann, they cannot return to their uncle's house (their parents being dead) as he is injured and doesn't want the burden of their company. So Philip has to return home, he suggests they return with him to Craggy Tops instead! While this plan sounds great to Jack and Lucy-Ann, they are unsure whether their schoolmaster would agree. So they all leave without permission. But everything turns out all right as Jack's uncle apparently has no objection and Mr. Roy (the schoolmaster) is delighted to be rid of his unwilling guests and kindly offers to send Philip's uncle and aunt the money for their stay. Philip has a sister, Dinah, who is a bit of a firebrand and is delighted at the new arrivals at Craggy Tops. Their holidays begin with a lot of promise even though Aunt Polly (Philip's aunt) is not so keen on additional guests at first. But not everything is straightforward at Craggy Tops. Jo-Jo, the black manservant is a nuisance who loves to interfere with the children andtakes every opportunity to thwart their fun. However, the children manage to have fun despite all that. But when Jack sees signalling lights on the Island of Gloom one night and goes out to investigate, he is threatened by Jo-Jo! Philip assures him that Jo-Jo is "harmless" but Jack is not so sure. In the meantime, the children discover a stranger called Bill Smugs living in a makeshift hut nearby and to their delight, he is very friendly and obliging though secretive. Jack wants to go off sailing to the Island of Gloom to find birds, so he hatches a plan to use Jo-Jo's boat one day to get there along with Philip. But they discover far more than just birds on the dark, forbidding island! So what exactly is going on on the Isle of Gloom and who exactly is Bill Smugs? What is his job at Craggy Tops and who are the strange men working in secret in the Copper Mines? That's what the rest of the adventure is about.

I won't give away the rest of the story, but right through there is a sense of anticipation and thrill in this novel. Unlike some of the tamer Enid Blyton "adventures" featuring tame, blundering villains this one has some really sinister characters, Jo-Jo being the most sinister among them. Blyton excels in descriptive passages as well as in action sequences. The sense of danger is evident right through the story and the reader is drawn into it masterfully.