The Lost Vessel by Mark Adderley

by | Oct 21, 2021 | Historical Fiction, Middle Grade Books, Thriller

Genre
Middlegrade Fiction, Historical Fiction
Audience
Ages 10-14
Author’s Worldview
Catholic
Year Published
2020
Themes
Trust, Family, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, WWII, Australia, Engineering, Priesthood, Gun Responsibility, Journalism, Weimar Republic, Jules Verne, Engineering

Reviewed by

A.R.K. Watson

Young readers and pulp adventure fans will not be disappointed by this latest McCracken treasure hunt. By the end of it you’ll either want to build something or cook something or go back and reread Jules Verne. Either way, Adderley has a way of bringing out the inner child in any reader of any age. By far this adventure has been my favorite in the series.

McCracken begins his adventure shortly after the events of the Lost Oasis where one of his friends got engaged to remarry his ex-wife. Now that the couple are newly remarried, McCracken and his team are taking them in their dirigible to the (literally) underground town of Coober Pedy, Australia, where the two will begin their new life together. Along the way they pick up a shady journalist by the name of North and an art dealer by the name of Ned Land. Land says that he is the grandson of the Ned Land in Jules Verne’s 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Land claims that Verne’s books were real, and he’s discovered a clue that could lead them to the actual hidden island that Captain Nemo retreated to in his retirement. Never one to turn down an adventure, McCracken and his team aboard their ship, the LS3, agree to take him to the coordinates of this mysterious island. Underway to the island they are dogged by a Mr. Diels of the German Weimar Republic who says that he has reason to arrest Ned Land. However, even the McCracken’s own German friends admit that there is something fishy going on with Diels when he spouts some proto-Nazi views. The determined German operative chases them across Australia, and the families aboard the LS3 Dirigible lean on their intelligence and faith in God and each other to foil him time and again. Things come to an explosive battle on the mysterious island, and McCracken even gets the chance to fight back using some of Captain Nemo’s steampunk weaponry.

Although this is the eighth novel in the series, Adderley has done a remarkable job of writing his books in such a way that readers can pick up the series in almost any order. However, with the hints of the coming WWII and a few proto-Nazi’s making an appearance, this is the first novel for which I would advise readers to have read at least one other McCracken book before this. That said, I think this is my favorite in the series so far. Perhaps it is just my nostalgic literature-loving brain, but who can resist a treasure hunt for Capt. Nemo’s famed Nautilus? When it comes to action, intrigue and mystery Adderley has certainly outdone himself.

The weakest element of the book would have to be North, the shady journalist. Although it is to be expected that villains will be a little flat in what is meant to be a pulp-style adventure, it seemed that the message was that all journalists are untrustworthy by default. Of course, it is important to address that journalists can abuse their authority, but much like depicting all cops as evil, it was a missed opportunity to address for young children the distinctions between ethical journalism and manipulative journalism. Parents might want to provide some further guidance on this topic when bringing this book to their children, but the book also staunchly argues that everyone—even shady people like North—should be treated with respect.

There were also a few moments where the heroes argue that it is a moral imperative for people to own guns but also to learn how to operate them safely and responsibly. Some parents will be very happy with that message, but as some might want to offer further nuance to their children on the topic, I thought it prudent to mention. It should also be repeated that none of these topics color the entire events of the book and whatever your family’s values, this is a fun and morally edifying book for your children to read with some minor guidance.

One of the fun elements in the McCracken series is how Adderley’s enthusiasm for engineering and invention shines through. I don’t know anyone else who can make explaining the inner workings of a battery so interesting (except perhaps Jules Verne himself). When the heroes get to explore Captain Nemo’s ship and inventions the joy is infectious. Treasure hunts are always fun, but often times the prize at the end isn’t as interesting as the journey. I am happy to say that the fun does not let up from the beginning scenes where the heroes have to “play” with dynamite to the end when they’re locked in a cool steam punk battle with some proto-Nazis. Old fans of McCracken will enjoy seeing how the family aboard the LS3 is growing, with some of the younger children from earlier books entering into their teens and becoming more active in the adventures. While Indiana Jones might be forever single and solo, McCracken and his friends bring their wives and children where everyone works together to form an international and proactive team ready to take on evil. And with the hints of WWII brewing at the end of this book, I think they’ll soon have to.

Get Catholic Books & eBooks for as little as $1 to FREE

The Bishop of 12th Avenue by Ray Lucit

A street kid gets ordained a Bishop in a post apocalyptic world. Talk about a shakeup in the priesthood.

War Demons by Russell Newquist

Lots of soldiers have demons, but Michael’s follow him back home. And now a secret order of demon-slayers tell him he has to save the world?!

Honor at Stake by Declan Finn

If you’re looking for a vampire-romance with a truly unique twist look no further.

The Fire of Eden (The Harwood Mysteries Book 3) by Antony Barone Kolenc

The mystery of a stolen treasure might hold the key to Xan’s discernment about whether God is calling him to the priesthood or to Lucy.

Murder Most Picante by Karina Fabian

The government can’t decide whether he is an illegal immigrant or invasive species. God expects a respectable dragon to find justice for others. This Dragon is not having a good time of it!

The Boy Who Knew (Friends in High Places: Carlo Acutis) by Corinna Turner

Faced with his death, a fifteen-year-old learns how to live through the wisdom of Blessed Carlo Acutis.

Cinderella by Charles Perrault

The true story of the Catholic saint who inspired the myth of Cinderella

Good to the Last Drop by Declan Finn

Marco thought his problems were over when he took on the vampire council, until he gets bit by a werewolf. Will this ruin things with his vampire girlfriend?

Hussar by Declan Finn (St. Tommy NYPD Book 8)

It’s been a few years since St. Tommy saved the world. Now his son Jeremy and ward Lena have joined the fight.

Demons are Forever by Declan Finn

Marco flees from his fears of hurting Amanda by taking a job to train Vampire Hunters in San Francisco. Should be a quiet job right?

Hell Spawn by Declan Finn

What does it look like when an every-man saint battles a demon?

The Destiny of Sunshine Ranch by T.M. Gaouette

A foster kid learns that sometimes the scariest part of life is accepting love.

Celtic Crossing by Len Mattano

Relic lost, and faith found.

Heavenly Hosts: Eucharistic Miracles for Kids by Kathryn Griffin Swegart, O.F.S.

Teach your children about the real presence through these short bedtime stories.

Gifts Visible and Invisible

If you are looking for a cozy read to get into the Christmas cheer, this collection has it all.

The River of Life by Diana González Tabbaa

The death of little Anthony’s father shakes his faith until a heaven-sent friend helps him find his way back to God.

My Brother’s Keeper by Bill Kassel

What if you were Jesus’ protective older brother? Could you navigate the courts of Rome & Jerusalem to save him?

Saving the Statue of Liberty By Andrea Jo Rodgers

Can John save the Statue of Liberty and keep from getting kicked off the team and out of the Academy?

From Afar by Roger Thomas

Three astronomers follow the stars in a search for order and meaning. An action adventure based on the three wise men of the Gospels.

The Dunes by A.R.K. Watson

“The Dunes” raises questions that are relevant in any marriage: not just for the creepy, otherworldly couple who venture onto a lonely island to set up camp near prehistoric sand dunes for the last time.