post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Ice Ghosts
Author: Paul Watson
Major Themes: Arctic, Franklin Expedition, Northwest Passage, Underwater Archeology
Synopsis: Ever since the Franklin Expedition disappeared in the 1840s, people have been searching for it and speculating about the fate of the ships and 128 men.
I don’t very often get books from the library. A few weeks ago, however, I was looking at the library’s online catalog to see if they had any children’s books from a list I had come across. They didn’t, but in the process of looking for those books I noticed Ice Ghosts. Ever since reading Mystery in the Frozen Lands a couple of years ago, I have been interested in the lost Franklin Expedition, so I decided to request this one. It was bad timing, since we were in the middle of a move, but I’ve managed to get through it. I hadn’t planned to review it, but when I was telling my family some of what I learned from it last night, I was told that I should.
Ice Ghosts tells the story of the Franklin Expedition. It starts out with Sir John Franklin and his crew of 128 men leaving England and heading for the Arctic to try to find the Northwest Passage. I found it fascinating that people believed, in the 1840s, that there was open water in the Arctic Ocean, if only you could get away from land.
Franklin’s timing was very poor. He set out near the end of the Little Ice Age, a time of colder temperatures which meant the ice in the Arctic didn’t always break up even for the normal couple of weeks in the middle of summer. He tried to go prepared, with enough provisions for three years—but were the provisions the cause of the disaster that befell his men? No one knows for sure. There is still a lot of speculation as to the reasons that they all died, but to me, botulism sounds likely.
Sir John’s wife was the main person pushing for expeditions to set out to rescue the missing men, starting only two years after they departed England. She did not let the matter rest, even after 10 years had gone by! Paul Watson details many of the rescue attempts, which cost millions of dollars and the lives of even more men—and still didn’t result in finding the lost explorers. What could have happened to them, and where did their ships end up?
This story carries on into the present day, as modern technology came into play to find the missing ships. It is a fascinating real-life detective story, and as you read it you will learn a lot about the Arctic and the lives of the Inuit, as well as Franklin’s ill-fated expedition.
WARNING: There were just a few 4-letter words, but because I was not planning to review the book I didn’t note them as I read. Chapter 5 talks a lot about the spirit world and consulting mediums for information. Chapter 9 is the biography of an Inuk (Inuit) man, and tells about a few times he was bothered by spirits. Somewhere around there mention is also made of the practice of infanticide by the Inuk.
Links to buy Ice Ghosts:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Keywords: Arctic, Franklin Expedition, Northwest Passage, Underwater Archeology