The year is 1798. Napoleon is conquering countries, John Adams is the U.S. President, and in the shipping town of Plymouth, England, a young boy has just joined the crew of a ship heading for the Caribbean.
Thus begins David Carmalt’s gripping tale, Bartholomew Mills and the January Dawn. This new release tells the story of Bartholomew Mills, or Bart for short, as he sets sail on a hair-raising journey across the Atlantic. There, the crew of the January Dawn may be in search of riches, but Bartholomew has something else in mind: revenge.
A WHALE OF A TALE
Bartholomew Mills never planned on becoming a sailor. After the sudden death of his father, however, Bart is suddenly alone and without any way to support himself. So when he’s offered a job aboard a brigantine called the January Dawn, Bart takes his chance and enlists.
The moment he steps on deck, Bart’s bombarded with knowledge about sailing. As the boatswain’s mate, he’ll have to know everything about the manning and repairing of the sails if the January Dawn has any hope of crossing the Atlantic. His most important lesson, however, is making sure to stay away from Captain Morel’s first mate, Ivan Stanhope. Veteran sailors are made of tough stuff, and Stanhope, with his quick temper and cat o’ nine tails whip, is the toughest of them all.
The stakes only get higher as the January Dawn sets sail. In between outbreaks of disease and the threat of Spanish warships, Bart does his best to survive life on the stormy seas. He even manages to make a few friends; Jonah, Stanhope’s quiet stepson, and Sebastian, a boisterous young sailor with a mysterious past. Trouble comes, however, when Bart overhears a terrible secret. It seems that Captain Morel and his lackeys are planning a particularly nasty heist — and now it’s up to Bartholomew to do everything in his power to stop it.
NO PLACE FOR THE FAINT OF HEART
Carmalt’s writing is action-packed and vivid. The world of 1798 comes alive through his descriptions, and the reader learns sailing jargon alongside Bartholomew as he trains to be a boatswain. A pirate ship is no place for the faint of heart, and that’s especially true for Bartholomew Mills and the January Dawn. The book is targeted toward middle-grade readers but doesn’t shy away from the grisly realities of life at sea; for example, Bart witnesses the brutal effects of scurvy and infected battle wounds. The book also discusses serious historical events during that era, such as the Atlantic slave trade and the colonization of the Americas.
Despite the dark aspects of life at sea during 1798, Bartholomew Mills and the January Dawn never feels hopelessly bleak. With every hardship Bart faces, he grows stronger and more determined to right the injustices around him. Alongside Jonah and Sebastian, Bart thinks he may even have a chance at avenging his father’s untimely death and murder — if he manages to survive the voyage. As the saying goes … dead men tell no tales.