Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Death by Airship

Death by Airship

Arthur Slade
For ages 9 to 12
Orca Book Publishers, 2019   ISBN: 978-1459818705

Some people might be bitter if they were the son of a pirate king but had no chance of taking over the throne one day. Prince Con, ninth in line for his father’s elevated position, does not really mind. He is quite content to sail across the skies in his ship, the Cindy, plundering where he can in his allocated piece of the sky. Life is good, especially since a lovely girl called Crystal floated into his life.

Then one day a fire breaks out on the Cindy and Con and his crew almost get toasted or blown up or both. Thanks to Con’s quick thinking and some very good flying the Cindy and all aboard her are saved. Fires on ships are not uncommon, but this time Con finds a burned-out arrow attached to the aft mast. Someone shot a flaming arrow at Con’s ship, and he recalls seeing an airship in the sky, far away, soon after the fire broke out. Such a shot would be impossible for most people; except for Con’s sister, Bartha.

Con sails the Cindy to Break Bones Island where Bartha lives in a tree mansion. He is ready for a fight but when he gets close to the tree mansion he sees that it has been on the receiving end of numerous cannon balls. Smoke fills the air and the place is in a terrible mess. Con finds Bartha in her observation room and she has been badly wounded. The minute she sees him she accuses him of being a traitor. She is convinced that he is the one who sabotaged her air ship, attacked her home, and killed her pet parrot. Apparently Con’s “victory flag,” actually twelve of them, were placed on the beach below the tree mansion. Though the flags, with their pickle emblem, certainly look like his, Con had nothing to do with this attack.

Then Con learns that Con’s brother Clint was poisoned and is dead, and his sister Tressa died when her ship blew up and crashed. Which means that Con is now seventh in line for the throne,  and if Bartha does not make it he will be one step closer still to being the king.

Eventually Con manages to convince his sister that he did not try to bump her off, and he sets off to find out who is framing him for the murders of two of his siblings and the attempted murder of a third. The flags from the beach are very good copies of the original and on the back of one of the flags he finds the initial of its maker. The letters PP tell him that Patricia Pandora made the flags.

Con and his crew sail the Cindy to One Tree Island where Patricia Pandora, who was Con’s kindergarten teacher, now lives. Mrs. Pandora tells Con that the flags she made were “ordered by royal decree.” Could it be that Con’s father, King Jules, is behind all these strange attacks? But why would he do such a thing? Why would he frame Con for the acts of violence? It is possible that someone could have faked the decree, but it looks authentic and it has the real royal seal on it. Whoever is behind this business is well connected.

Anyone who likes pirate tales is going to enjoy this action-packed piratical mystery. Arthur Slade presents his readers with a story that is deliciously funny, enjoyable, and thoroughly unpredictable.