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Moonfleet: A Gripping Tale of Smuggling, Royal Treasure & Shipwreck (Children's Classics)

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The village of Moonfleet has a legend about the notorious Colonel John "Blackbeard" Mohune who is buried in the family crypt under the church. Blackbeard is reputed to have stolen a diamond from King Charles I and hiding it before his death. But his ghost has no rest and it wanders at night looking for the treasure and causing the mysterious lights in the churchyard. Now i The village of Moonfleet has a legend about the notorious Colonel John "Blackbeard" Mohune who is buried in the family crypt under the church. Blackbeard is reputed to have stolen a diamond from King Charles I and hiding it before his death. But his ghost has no rest and it wanders at night looking for the treasure and causing the mysterious lights in the churchyard. Now it is up to John and Elzevir to hunt the treasure amidst all odds and cunning. But will they survive the ordeal? Or will this hunt turn out to be the biggest mistake of their lives?


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The village of Moonfleet has a legend about the notorious Colonel John "Blackbeard" Mohune who is buried in the family crypt under the church. Blackbeard is reputed to have stolen a diamond from King Charles I and hiding it before his death. But his ghost has no rest and it wanders at night looking for the treasure and causing the mysterious lights in the churchyard. Now i The village of Moonfleet has a legend about the notorious Colonel John "Blackbeard" Mohune who is buried in the family crypt under the church. Blackbeard is reputed to have stolen a diamond from King Charles I and hiding it before his death. But his ghost has no rest and it wanders at night looking for the treasure and causing the mysterious lights in the churchyard. Now it is up to John and Elzevir to hunt the treasure amidst all odds and cunning. But will they survive the ordeal? Or will this hunt turn out to be the biggest mistake of their lives?

30 review for Moonfleet: A Gripping Tale of Smuggling, Royal Treasure & Shipwreck (Children's Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bart Breen

    A Blast from the Past Number me among the many who read this book in grade school back in the late 60's or 70's and the name stuck with me through the years. Later as an adult, I returned to this book to read it anew and experience the magic again. Yes, this is book designed for the younger reader. But as is the case with most well written books, all ages will find something to take away. Treasure Island, Kidnapped etc. are all of the same genre, but what makes Moonfleet unique is the tight identif A Blast from the Past Number me among the many who read this book in grade school back in the late 60's or 70's and the name stuck with me through the years. Later as an adult, I returned to this book to read it anew and experience the magic again. Yes, this is book designed for the younger reader. But as is the case with most well written books, all ages will find something to take away. Treasure Island, Kidnapped etc. are all of the same genre, but what makes Moonfleet unique is the tight identification of the young protagonist John Trenchard and the first person telling which brings the reader into seeing and experiencing it though his eyes. For a book published in 1898 and set in 1757 and following, that youth in the 60's would find it so fascinating and real is a testament to the talent of Falkner. Timeless. Engaging. Intriguing. Fantastic! Did I mention that I like it and recommend it heartily?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    This is billed as an adventure story for younger readers. One evening in March, when the days were lengthening fast, there came a messenger from Dorchester, and brought printed noticed for fixing to the shutters of the Why Not and the church door, which said that in a week's time a bailiff of the duchy of Cornwall would visit Moonfleet. This bailiff was an important person, and his visits stood as events in village history. Once in five years he made a perambulation, or journey, through the whole This is billed as an adventure story for younger readers. One evening in March, when the days were lengthening fast, there came a messenger from Dorchester, and brought printed noticed for fixing to the shutters of the Why Not and the church door, which said that in a week's time a bailiff of the duchy of Cornwall would visit Moonfleet. This bailiff was an important person, and his visits stood as events in village history. Once in five years he made a perambulation, or journey, through the whole duchy, inspecting all royal properties, and arranging for new leases. His visits to Moonfleet were usually short enough, for owing to the Mohunes owning all the land, the only duchy estate there was the Why Not, and the only duty of the bailiff to renew that five-year lease under which the Blocks had held the inn, father and son, for generations. But for all that, the business was not performed without ceremony, for there was a solemn show of putting up the lease of the inn to the highest bidder, though it was well understood that no one except Elzevir would make an offer. I was actually *more* patient with convoluted, old-fashioned prose when I was a kid than I am now, but I would have not finished this book. The friend who gave it to me read it at eight and only remembers how dull it was. The main character, John, is weirdly lacking in personality, too. He's a little bit greedy, but not enough to be a serious character defect -- he doesn't have a family or great prospects, and who doesn't want to find a pirate treasure when they're 15? He doesn't have any friends, seemingly by choice. He isn't attached to the aunt with whom he lives; he seems to merely appreciate rather than care about adults who are kind to him. He likes a girl, and looking at the sea. There's just not a lot there to make me care about him. Suckered by a neat title yet again. DNFing yet again.

  3. 4 out of 5

    P.E.

    As in life, so in a game of hazard, skill will make something of the worst of throws A fine story of coming of age and treasure hunt starting from a village of smugglers in Southern England steeped in local tales and legends. Maybe the twists and turns in the second half are overdone and far-fetched but it spoils nothing of the fun of taking part in this marvelous treasure hunt! Matching Soundtrack : Isabeau s'y promène ("Je fis une rencontre") - Traditional Song in Quebec https://www.youtube.com As in life, so in a game of hazard, skill will make something of the worst of throws A fine story of coming of age and treasure hunt starting from a village of smugglers in Southern England steeped in local tales and legends. Maybe the twists and turns in the second half are overdone and far-fetched but it spoils nothing of the fun of taking part in this marvelous treasure hunt! Matching Soundtrack : Isabeau s'y promène ("Je fis une rencontre") - Traditional Song in Quebec https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuE0M... ------------------------- "Dans la vie, comme dans un jeu de hasard, l'habile tirera toujours quelque chose du pire coup de dés" Une belle histoire de passage à l'âge adulte et de chasse au trésor qui part d'un petit village de contrebandiers dans le sud de l'Angleterre. Les rebondissements qui s'enchaînent à partir de la seconde moitié sont sûrement invraisemblables, mais ça n'enlève rien au plaisir de prendre part à cette fantastique chasse au trésor ! Musique folklorique : Isabeau s'y promène ("Je fis une rencontre") - Traditional Song in Quebec https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuE0M...

  4. 5 out of 5

    James McCormick

    Smugglers, betrayal, murder, love, avarice, it would be difficult to say what Falkner’s late 18th Century tale of adventure doesn’t have. In my opinion Moonfleet equals Stevenson’s or Twain’s works although it’s never quite received the same recognition. As with Jim Hawkins or Huck Finn, the tale’s main character and first person narrator, is a young boy, John Trenchard, yet I would argue that in terms of characterisation Falkner’s work is superior to these two other works, for the maturational Smugglers, betrayal, murder, love, avarice, it would be difficult to say what Falkner’s late 18th Century tale of adventure doesn’t have. In my opinion Moonfleet equals Stevenson’s or Twain’s works although it’s never quite received the same recognition. As with Jim Hawkins or Huck Finn, the tale’s main character and first person narrator, is a young boy, John Trenchard, yet I would argue that in terms of characterisation Falkner’s work is superior to these two other works, for the maturational journey from naïve youth to guilt ridden and almost broken adulthood is expertly handled. In contrast to the YA, boy’s own adventure scenes earlier on, the last third is incredibly emotive, especially the final shipwreck scene and Elzevir Block. Chance is a recurring theme in the novel (symbolised as the role of dice in a backgammon game), as is self-resilience and these two elements are juxtaposed throughout as Trenchard’s fate rises then falls dramatically until its seems utterly hopeless. No spoilers here though, you should read this one for yourself.

  5. 4 out of 5

    DebK

    This is one of the best books I have ever read and the best book I have read in a very long time. It is an absolute treasure. Because it does not float to the top of the list for classics, it is easily missed, but I would put it up there with Treasure Island. It had me in its grip from start to finish (and I rarely experience that anymore). Wonderful setting, themes, characters. An adventure with a heart-wrenching message about life, love, and the pursuit of fortune. A must read!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tweety

    This is probably the best YA book I have ever read. Only a few others were as good as this one was. After all, What can be better than Floating Coffins in a small village called Moonfleet with smugglers Galore, hairbreadth escapes on cliff paths which zigzag up in an alarming manner and a lost diamond? John was wholly believable and likable, even if I did want to shake him till his teeth rattled. His substitute Father I liked better. He may have been a smuggler but he was a sight better then This is probably the best YA book I have ever read. Only a few others were as good as this one was. After all, What can be better than Floating Coffins in a small village called Moonfleet with smugglers Galore, hairbreadth escapes on cliff paths which zigzag up in an alarming manner and a lost diamond? John was wholly believable and likable, even if I did want to shake him till his teeth rattled. His substitute Father I liked better. He may have been a smuggler but he was a sight better then the rest of the men in this book. Who would have thought there could be a good smuggler, one who wasn't out to wring everyone's neck? It was wonderful to read a YA book that was not stereotyped. I loved this book enough to reread it right now. And that ending! Oh, talk about shivers down your spine! Breathtakingly beautiful. I'm at a loss for words.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    How I loved this book. I had never heard of it growing up but recently found a most intriguing blog post, which speaks to the power of a good book review. When a grown woman recommends a boy's adventure story, it bears looking into. I haven't read Robert Louis Stevenson so can't say whether it is Treasure Island-lite (as another reviewer noted, I also expected pirates and found none, though there are smugglers, shipwrecks, and hidden treasure), but the imagery is beautiful, the language is evocat How I loved this book. I had never heard of it growing up but recently found a most intriguing blog post, which speaks to the power of a good book review. When a grown woman recommends a boy's adventure story, it bears looking into. I haven't read Robert Louis Stevenson so can't say whether it is Treasure Island-lite (as another reviewer noted, I also expected pirates and found none, though there are smugglers, shipwrecks, and hidden treasure), but the imagery is beautiful, the language is evocative, and the characters are moving. Here is the blog post that led me to read it: http://www.annesage.com/blog/2008/12/...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Grace Turner

    The first sixteen chapters of this nineteen chapter novel belong to a near perfect adventure story. After that, unfortunately, things get a little murky and overstated, but the ending is satisfying in its own quite grim fashion. I have a feeling that this is a novel I will return to again and again, and hope to read to my kids in the future. If you're an enthusiast of pirates, smuggled goods, old cursed treasure and deadly shipwrecks, you may well feel the same. The first sixteen chapters of this nineteen chapter novel belong to a near perfect adventure story. After that, unfortunately, things get a little murky and overstated, but the ending is satisfying in its own quite grim fashion. I have a feeling that this is a novel I will return to again and again, and hope to read to my kids in the future. If you're an enthusiast of pirates, smuggled goods, old cursed treasure and deadly shipwrecks, you may well feel the same.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Bettie's Books Bettie's Books

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    ‘Moonfleet’ was recommended to me as a pleasant reminder of Black Sails, absolutely the best TV series about pirates and one of my all-time favourite shows. Although Black Sails is ostensibly a prequel to Treasure Island, I preferred ‘Moonfleet’ and felt it was closer in spirit to Black Sails. While both Treasure Island and ‘Moonfleet’ are narrated by a teenage boy, John Trenchard the narrator of ‘Moonfleet’ is a great deal more sympathetic. Largely because he is less inclined to murder, while a ‘Moonfleet’ was recommended to me as a pleasant reminder of Black Sails, absolutely the best TV series about pirates and one of my all-time favourite shows. Although Black Sails is ostensibly a prequel to Treasure Island, I preferred ‘Moonfleet’ and felt it was closer in spirit to Black Sails. While both Treasure Island and ‘Moonfleet’ are narrated by a teenage boy, John Trenchard the narrator of ‘Moonfleet’ is a great deal more sympathetic. Largely because he is less inclined to murder, while also having a flexible enough morality to be comfortable with smuggling, burglary, and white lies. The tale concerns smugglers rather than pirates per se, however it has a similar plot full of adventure on the high seas and treasure-hunting. An unfortunate moment of antisemitism aside, it has aged well. I liked the bonds of found family, the condemnation of inequality, and the wonderfully atmospheric writing. I’ve been to Dorset and visited some of the places mentioned (Swanage, Corfe Castle), which added to the appeal. Falkner evokes a wonderful sense of place; the village of Moonfleet is vividly drawn. This is an exciting adventure story with a core of anti-establishment subversion - the real villain is the rich for not sharing their wealth. (view spoiler)[Satisfyingly, they get their comeuppance. Although our hero settles down comfortably at the end, I don’t think that negates his previous rebellious behaviour. Especially as his wife is totally comfortable with it. ‘Moonfleet’ is also more emotionally powerful than Treasure Island. The wonderfully named Elzevir Block’s adoption of John recalls Valjean’s relationship with Cosette in Les Misérables. I was genuinely moved when Elzevir sacrifices himself to save John, even though I saw it coming. And all the business with the diamond is thrilling; the whole thing could make an excellent film. (hide spoiler)] Overall, I had a great time reading ‘Moonfleet’ and was pleasantly reminded of my beloved pirates.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Bok

    I am a huge fan of the children’s books of the Golden Age (from, let us say, Alice in Wonderland to The Hobbit). The best ones combine corking-good yarns with deeper overtones of myth and spirituality, and focus on ethics in a nonpreachy way. I admire their authors’ gift for dropping the reader straight into the middle to the tale, in contrast to the literary trends of the time, and for holding the reader in suspense. As a sucker for vocabulary, I also love that they don’t “write down” to their I am a huge fan of the children’s books of the Golden Age (from, let us say, Alice in Wonderland to The Hobbit). The best ones combine corking-good yarns with deeper overtones of myth and spirituality, and focus on ethics in a nonpreachy way. I admire their authors’ gift for dropping the reader straight into the middle to the tale, in contrast to the literary trends of the time, and for holding the reader in suspense. As a sucker for vocabulary, I also love that they don’t “write down” to their readers, forcing readers to stretch to understand. Plus I’m working on a smuggling story, so when I heard about John Meade Falkner’s Moonfleet, I just had to read it! Set in the mid-eighteenth century (though written about 150 years later), it tells the story of John Trenchard, a teenage orphan growing up in an impoverished coastal village in southern England. He is being brought up by an aunt who is more strict than loving, but finds affection and some parenting among the older men of the village. He also has a crush on a girl, the daughter of the wealthiest man in town; she has been a childhood pal but now is more to him. As becomes rapidly clear, many of the townspeople are engaged in the free-trade—smuggling—and before long John is embroiled in their activities. The fact that his sweetheart’s father is actively engaged in defeating the smugglers ratchets up the conflict. Things very rapidly go bad for John, and he finds himself on the run. At this point my interest in the story started to flag a bit, though the book did carry me on to the end. Cut loose from his village context, John encounters a series of—well, they’re too dire to call them adventures, more like calamities—and this story becomes more and more lurid. The book became more about “whatever will happen next?” and less about character and nuance. The dénouement was hasty and pretty sentimental. In the end, while I enjoyed the story and the author’s style, I felt there was something missing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amirtha Shri

    An adventure novel that's one of its kind, the book takes you to Moonfleet, a quaint little coastal village, in 18th century England. A kid named John Trenchard guided by his curiosity explores a sinkhole in a graveyard and finds himself in a pickle that gets tangier by the page. A smuggling mission gone wrong puts a price on his head and the events that unravel after that had me on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed the quotes that preceded each chapter, which though were vaguely pertinent di An adventure novel that's one of its kind, the book takes you to Moonfleet, a quaint little coastal village, in 18th century England. A kid named John Trenchard guided by his curiosity explores a sinkhole in a graveyard and finds himself in a pickle that gets tangier by the page. A smuggling mission gone wrong puts a price on his head and the events that unravel after that had me on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed the quotes that preceded each chapter, which though were vaguely pertinent did not prime my expectations of the plot. What caught me off guard was the emotional undertone in this adrenaline rush of a novel.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paul Steer

    I began reading this book aged I think about 12 , whilst on the train with my father for a trip to London, l was totally engrossed in it and could not put it down . Unfortunately a few days later as we travelled across one of the bridges crossing the Thames on our way to the Science museum in a red double decker bus , I was downstairs seated near the open door at the back, reading with the book open on my lap , when to my great distress a gust of wind blew the book out of my hands and out of the I began reading this book aged I think about 12 , whilst on the train with my father for a trip to London, l was totally engrossed in it and could not put it down . Unfortunately a few days later as we travelled across one of the bridges crossing the Thames on our way to the Science museum in a red double decker bus , I was downstairs seated near the open door at the back, reading with the book open on my lap , when to my great distress a gust of wind blew the book out of my hands and out of the bus ! Dad & I got off at the next stop and went in search for it , but alas we were unable to find it ! I remember that I had been fairly close to finishing it and was frustrated that I did not find out how the story ended . Dad promised to buy me another copy, but for whatever reason this never happened. However roll on another 48 years to find that at least my sorry little tale does have a happy ending Whilst on a break in the Lakes with my wife , daughter , son in law and my 1st incubating grandchild , we visited a cracking second hand bookshop in Kendal which we had , previously been to before, and low and behold there to my great delight on the well stocked shelves was my old friend . I am now finally a happy man looking forward with great anticipation to re reading my long lost travelling companion , but this time I will hold onto it very tightly ..... right to the very end.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Trish Elizabeth

    We were staying within walking distance of Moonfleet Manor, had dinner there and tea on one occasion, visited the church and I said i wanted to read this book haveing read the history wihtin the area, so my hubby kindly bought me this copy in a secondhand book shop. I thoroughly enjoyed Moonfleet, made even more delightful because I knew and have walked this coastline.. when boats were wrecked I could envisage men desperately trying to scrabble back up the sheer shingle drop and totally failing We were staying within walking distance of Moonfleet Manor, had dinner there and tea on one occasion, visited the church and I said i wanted to read this book haveing read the history wihtin the area, so my hubby kindly bought me this copy in a secondhand book shop. I thoroughly enjoyed Moonfleet, made even more delightful because I knew and have walked this coastline.. when boats were wrecked I could envisage men desperately trying to scrabble back up the sheer shingle drop and totally failing due the strong back pull of the sea.. These shore lines are as dangerous today as they would have been then, perfect hiding places for smugglers and the like... Totally enjoyed.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Casceil

    Written in 1898, Moonfleet has held up well for its age. Its an adventure story/coming of age story about a likeable character who makes mistakes and pays for them. Some of the coincidences require serious amounts of suspension of disbelief, but it is the sort of story that makes you feel like everything is fated, anyway.

  16. 4 out of 5

    George Chittenden

    I read this book as a journalist recently compared it to my debut 'The Boy Who Led Them', which is similar only in the sense that it's a smuggling adventure. I really enjoyed reading Moonfleet. The novel had me turning pages at a rapid speed and was in no way predictable. Overall it has a moral to tell. I have to be honest and admit that it made me cry which is possibly the greatest compliment a reader can ever pay a writer. I found the relationship between tough guy smuggler Elziver Block and th I read this book as a journalist recently compared it to my debut 'The Boy Who Led Them', which is similar only in the sense that it's a smuggling adventure. I really enjoyed reading Moonfleet. The novel had me turning pages at a rapid speed and was in no way predictable. Overall it has a moral to tell. I have to be honest and admit that it made me cry which is possibly the greatest compliment a reader can ever pay a writer. I found the relationship between tough guy smuggler Elziver Block and the young orphan John Trenchard really touching. Overall a great read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dorcas

    This is one of my all time favorite YA books. It has everything : smugglers, a legend of treasure, the Dorset coast, blackbeard's corpse, floating caskets under the church floor, kidnapping, branding and even a mild love interest. I remember reading this for the first time when I was about 20 and I couldn't put it down. Treasure Island is good but IMO this is better. In fact, I think it's time for a reread :) This is one of my all time favorite YA books. It has everything : smugglers, a legend of treasure, the Dorset coast, blackbeard's corpse, floating caskets under the church floor, kidnapping, branding and even a mild love interest. I remember reading this for the first time when I was about 20 and I couldn't put it down. Treasure Island is good but IMO this is better. In fact, I think it's time for a reread :)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    Moonfleet is the story of John Trenchard and the smuggling activities along the shores of Dorset, John also delves into the secret of Colonel Mohune's treasure. Moonfleet is the story of John Trenchard and the smuggling activities along the shores of Dorset, John also delves into the secret of Colonel Mohune's treasure.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Renee M

    Not as good as Treasure Island, but lots of fun. An exciting tale of smugglers and treasure.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Robert Arl

    Read in thirty-two installments on the app Serial Reader. A very good English adventure story in the same vein as Treasure Island.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Richeal

    I found this on serialreader. Liked it very much

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lee Broderick

    'I have just finished rereading Moonfleet, after a lifetime of knowing full well that I had been read it as a boy, but, I confess, remembering very little about it, only that I had enjoyed it hugely. But then as I read it again, nearly sixty years on, I discovered that my recollection of this great adventure story had not been lost at all, nor was it confused, as I had thought it might be, with other stories of smugglers and pirates and lost treasure. On the contrary, with every page I turned 'I have just finished rereading Moonfleet, after a lifetime of knowing full well that I had been read it as a boy, but, I confess, remembering very little about it, only that I had enjoyed it hugely. But then as I read it again, nearly sixty years on, I discovered that my recollection of this great adventure story had not been lost at all, nor was it confused, as I had thought it might be, with other stories of smugglers and pirates and lost treasure. On the contrary, with every page I turned there were moments of déjà vu, and I realised that my memories of this story had simply been lying dormant in my imagination all these years, and were still there waiting to be reawakened.' I know I had not previously read Moonfleet. I also know that I had it read to me, by the headmaster at our school. I didn't know its title or that it was a beloved classic; I had in fact assumed that it was some forgotten 1950's tale. The imagery of the crypt scenes had stayed with me all my life though and when this edition appeared in the Folio Society catalogue I knew I had identified that book. I'm quoting Michael Morpurgo's introduction to that edition here at length because it seems so apposite. This is a powerfully told tale that belies its age. Yes, perhaps it seems a little old now but not nearly as old as it is. Not just simply a riveting yarn it is something that seeps into your subconscious, becoming something formative. Like Morpurgo, I remembered vividly what I was doing when I first encountered this story, as much as I did the story itself. 'It is easy to be dismissive of a plot that seems somehow to have all the tried and tested ingredients - and Moonfleet does have all of them. John Trenchard is a teenage lad with no proper home of his own, who falls in (literally!) with a band of smugglers. From then on this breathless tempestuous tale becomes a real page-turner, with a plot so absurd you might think, so full of fortuitous improbabilities, of clichés and overly crafty coincidences, as to be ridiculous. Yet somehow it works. As you read it, you want to believe it, so you do believe it. How can that be? How did he (John Meade Falkner) do it?' Part of the answer, surely, lies in the beautiful, compelling relationship between Trenchard and Elzevir Block. Both of whom find in the other what they need. Morpurgo hints at that, too. It's much, much more than that though. This is simply a novel that belies the sum of its parts to become something altogether better.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Norhausen

    If, like me, you have a thing for Victorian adventure stories, then this is the book for you. It ended up on my reading list while I read Treasure Island last year. In a similar fashion, this is told from the protagonist's perspective. It's a beautiful story about friendship and coming of age set in the rough landscapes of Dorset. If, like me, you have a thing for Victorian adventure stories, then this is the book for you. It ended up on my reading list while I read Treasure Island last year. In a similar fashion, this is told from the protagonist's perspective. It's a beautiful story about friendship and coming of age set in the rough landscapes of Dorset.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ivy-Mabel Fling

    The only book I was supposed to read at school and actually did finish! And even in my dotage I found it exciting!!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    When I was a child, which wasn't that long ago really lbr, I swear there were always certain categories of fiction: pirates, cowboys, victorians or magical creatures like unicorns. To me then, this book is the ultimate pirate book, as I can't speak for anyone else, but I feel like smuggling is such a thing with English literature, particularly childrens novels, eg Enid Blyton's Five go to Smugglers Cove. It's just one of those little mysteries that children can invent upon but also see as someth When I was a child, which wasn't that long ago really lbr, I swear there were always certain categories of fiction: pirates, cowboys, victorians or magical creatures like unicorns. To me then, this book is the ultimate pirate book, as I can't speak for anyone else, but I feel like smuggling is such a thing with English literature, particularly childrens novels, eg Enid Blyton's Five go to Smugglers Cove. It's just one of those little mysteries that children can invent upon but also see as something spooky or secret but exciting. For me then, this book encapsulated children's fantasies with real life in such a way that it wasn't patronising, as many YA or children's novels are now, but it was still fantastical and an adventure. It begins as a story with John Trenchard, a young orphan boy who lives at Moonfleet with his Aunt. Moonfleet is a small village with a backstory surrounding the Mohunes, a former prominent family whose most infamous member includes Colonel John "Blackbeard" Mohune. There are all sorts of supernatural stories surrounding Blackbeard, his betrayal, and untimely demise which left behind a diamond, or 'Blackbeard's treasure' which was intended to be spent on rebuilding the Almshouse. As a result, Blackbeard is said to be wandering the graveyard and church at night in search of his treasure. However, we join John with the death of Elzevir Block's Son, David, who is killed by Mr Maskew, the local magistrate, during a smuggling raid. This begins a story of ill feeling and revenge between the two men. Yet John is unaware of this, and the story is somewhat sidetracked at the beginning with John's fascination with Blackbeards diamond, something spurred when creepy groans are heard from the Mohune vault after a flooding. The flooding uncovered a 'secret' tunnel which lead to the Mohune Vault, where John discovers a locket of Blackbeard's, but also the story behind the lights in the churchyard and what caused the groans in the vault. These stories are surrounded by smugglers- and lead to a story more mature than simple treasure maps and ghosts. Ultimately John becomes informally adopted by Elzevir Block and the two are forced on an adventure where they become outlaws, after events force them to become ousted from Moonfleet and decide instead to go in search of Blackbeards diamond. The two are faced with various obstacles and trials, from murder and disguise to escaping prisons and stealing before they can even think of returning home. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Even though it is a 'children's novel', the style of writing and the story itself are mature enough to be enjoyed by pretty much anyone. It has everything you could want from a book as well: murder, crime, romance, happiness. It's a well rounded novel, where everything is tied up, yet is not unrealistically happy where everything ends well and good; in that sense, it's pretty realistic. I also enjoyed the characters in this book, Elzevir's loyalty to John, John's childish obsession with the treasure, Grace being lovely and kind despite her corrupt father Mr Maskew. There was growth to them also, you could physically read John growing from boy to man. There was also a good timing to this book, everything was set up with a good backstory, and once it got going it REALLY got going! And yes okay, maybe something's were a bit easy and convenient, it was still quite mature in parts, like with John stuck in the passage is TERRIFYING, being on the run from the posse, having a broken leg and clambering all over some hills. There was also good symbolism in this which I actually enjoyed, specifically the 'Y'. The 'Y' was the symbol of the Mohune family however it ran throughout the book with the pub the 'Why Not?', the Y on the stone which marked the treasure and the Y branding- it all came with the ideal of the easy path vs the hard path which is being preached originally in the church when the first noises are being heard from the Mohune vault. It's a physical example of the easy route, eg gaining riches from treasure, which are all easy but end up with the 'curse', while the whole story could be avoided had John not gone down to the crypt in search of Blackbeard and the smugglers and remained in bed with his Aunt for an honest life. This book to me is so nostalgic, so I automatically love it for that, but I rated it 4 stars because to me it is a bit simple (it is a childrens book lol). However, it is a fantastic classical book: it's easy to read, has a great story and characters, and I just love the setting of it. Would recommend if you're trying to get into classics but find the language a bit difficult, or even if you just want to read something about pirates, ghosts and treasure.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stan

    Moonfleet is a coming of age story written in the late 1800's. It is somewhat tragic. Though the story is resolved and may be considered a happy ending, the conclusion did not provide for me any real resolution to the tragedies of the protagonists sufferings and sorrows. The story flows well. The prose is enjoyable and very readable, despite the century plus that has passed since it was written. The places and people are well described. The bonds of friendship through great loss may lead the read Moonfleet is a coming of age story written in the late 1800's. It is somewhat tragic. Though the story is resolved and may be considered a happy ending, the conclusion did not provide for me any real resolution to the tragedies of the protagonists sufferings and sorrows. The story flows well. The prose is enjoyable and very readable, despite the century plus that has passed since it was written. The places and people are well described. The bonds of friendship through great loss may lead the reader to evaluate his or her own ideas about what it means to love others and be a friend. I liked the book, but did not love it. I enjoyed the story, but am not overjoyed by it. If you give it a try, enjoy!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Chesil Beach in Dorset is a spectacular bank of pebbles stretching for nearly twenty miles along the Dorset coast, running in a north-easterly direction from south of Weymouth. Behind it for part of its length is a freshwater lagoon called the Fleet. I have happy memories camping near Fleet village with my young son in the early nineties, exploring the area and visiting Portland Bill and Weymouth. But it hasn't always been known solely as a holiday area: in the 18th century smuggling was rife, a Chesil Beach in Dorset is a spectacular bank of pebbles stretching for nearly twenty miles along the Dorset coast, running in a north-easterly direction from south of Weymouth. Behind it for part of its length is a freshwater lagoon called the Fleet. I have happy memories camping near Fleet village with my young son in the early nineties, exploring the area and visiting Portland Bill and Weymouth. But it hasn't always been known solely as a holiday area: in the 18th century smuggling was rife, as elsewhere on the British coast, and Moonfleet portrays -- with only a little romanticism -- the kind of activities in which smugglers were involved in this part of Dorset. Written fifteen years after Treasure Island, Moonfleet superficially resembles that earlier adventure story: both are set in the 18th century, both have a young protagonist falling under the spell of a charismatic father-figure, both involve a search for ill-gotten treasure -- the location of which is indicated by the chance discovery of a document -- and feature an inn and an overseas voyage, though one features pirates and the other smugglers. But there are differences: for example, while Treasure Island includes first-person narrative from Dr Livesey as well as Jim Hawkins, Moonfleet is told entirely from the point of view of John Trenchard, who is just fifteen when the story opens; and though Stevenson sets his tale in fictional locations (I don't count Bristol because its description lacks any real local colour) Falkner bases his settings on real localities with fictional names -- Moonfleet is East Fleet, the Snout is Portland Bill, the castle on the Isle of Wight is Carisbrooke -- though I've not yet been able to discover if Ymeguen near the Dutch town of The Hague is entirely made up. Orphan John Trenchard, brought up in Moonfleet village by his humourless aunt, forms an attachment with innkeeper Elzevir Block, whose own son has been killed during a smuggling operation. Attending lessons given by Parson Glennie, John is much taken with Grace Maskew, whose father had fired the fatal shot. We hear a lot about the ghost of local worthy John Mohune, nicknamed Blackbeard, who had been involved in the betrayal of Charles I a century before when the king was attempting escape from the Isle of Wight. John discovers that the noises from the crypt of the local church aren't those made by Blackbeard's unquiet spirit but by smugglers concealing spirit of a different kind. The crypt also holds the coffin of this same Blackbeard (not the Blackbeard, who was really Edward Teach from Bristol) and the secret of a missing treasure reportedly given to Blackbeard to allow the king to flee prison. Needless to say, our young hero gets involved with the smugglers, being himself forced to flee capture and undertake a journey that takes him to Wight, thence to Holland, followed then by a spectacular shipwreck. Moonfleet fully deserves it reputation as a children's classic. It's hard not to be sympathetic to the narrator, who generally seems a good egg even when involved in illicit activities (and likely to profit from them). I also get the impression that the author invested much of himself in the characters: after all, he too is called John, Grace is a family name (borne by his sister Mary Grace and his mother Elizabeth Grace Meade) and the headmaster of his first school was called Ratsey Maskew (after whom two Moonfleet characters took their names). Falkner himself is a fascinating personage, incidentally, as a glance at his biography shows. As well as a sympathetic lead, this tale of derring-do is gripping almost from first to last. We get a lot of circumstantial detail that creates verisimilitude, whether it's a clear timeline, a sense of landscape or the manners and customs of the period. Life is shown as hard -- the threat of flood or shipwreck due to bad weather, loss of livelihood from vindictive actions by third parties, death by misadventure, ambush or capital punishment, and even wrongful imprisonment. This being a traditional novel for juveniles there is a happy ending (a little too pat for my taste) and even the hint of young love, something Stevenson conspicuously avoided in Treasure Island. Roger Lancelyn Green reminds us (in Tellers of Tales: children's books & their authors from 1800-1968, Kaye & Ward 1969) that Falkner made just one attempt to write "a boy's book in the tradition of Treasure Island", adding, rather grudgingly I think, that it "still has its admirers". Perhaps Sky 1's attempt to match their recent success in adapting Stevenson's pirate novel for the small screen with their new production of Moonfleet will attract new admirers. By the way, Fritz Lang's 1955 film of the same name bears very little resemblance to Falkner's novel, its noir look little compensating for its gross liberties with plot and characters; it seems to me to owe a lot to Russell Thorndike's Doctor Syn novels (a character I remember from the 1963 Disney film Dr Syn, Alias the Scarecrow) in which a Sussex worthy is secretly involved in smuggling. As a further aside, the Doctor Syn smuggling scenario must surely have been an influence on Joan Aiken's The Cuckoo Tree (1971), featuring as it does resourceful smugglers and local nobility and set not too far from Romney Marsh, Christopher Syn's home turf. http://wp.me/p2oNj1-yH

  28. 5 out of 5

    J.A. Kahn

    I read this book in school (over 40 years ago). Can't remember much about it all these years later but I do recall that a 13-year-old me really loved it. I know that's not much to go on by way of a recommendation but sadly I don't have the stamina to reread it and give a better review. Sorry ;) I read this book in school (over 40 years ago). Can't remember much about it all these years later but I do recall that a 13-year-old me really loved it. I know that's not much to go on by way of a recommendation but sadly I don't have the stamina to reread it and give a better review. Sorry ;)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa Bohon

    A wonderful old time adventure story - would definitely put it on a Great Books for Boys list - filled with authentic detail, emotion, and character, but still having the unreal thrill of a 'cursed treasure'. The moral lesson of the tale, regarding the love of money, is potent, but the best part of the book to me is the sense of the moment conveyed in the varying scenes, so vivid, and yet so antique, full of a sense of religion and of life elements that we never think of today, while remaining s A wonderful old time adventure story - would definitely put it on a Great Books for Boys list - filled with authentic detail, emotion, and character, but still having the unreal thrill of a 'cursed treasure'. The moral lesson of the tale, regarding the love of money, is potent, but the best part of the book to me is the sense of the moment conveyed in the varying scenes, so vivid, and yet so antique, full of a sense of religion and of life elements that we never think of today, while remaining simple and boyish.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steve R

    A rollicking good story, replete with suspenseful incidents, lyric descriptions, sincere romance, both moral depravity and rectitude and a touch of the supernatural. It put me in mind of several of Walter Scott's Waverley novels, particularly The Pirate, for its ability to combine picturesque characters with an engaging plot. John Trenchard is an orphan living with his over-strict aunt when the novel opens. He learns of the activities of a group of smugglers - more commonly referred to as contra A rollicking good story, replete with suspenseful incidents, lyric descriptions, sincere romance, both moral depravity and rectitude and a touch of the supernatural. It put me in mind of several of Walter Scott's Waverley novels, particularly The Pirate, for its ability to combine picturesque characters with an engaging plot. John Trenchard is an orphan living with his over-strict aunt when the novel opens. He learns of the activities of a group of smugglers - more commonly referred to as contrabandiers or landers - and, quite by accident, of their secret lair for goods on which they do not want to pay the excise or revenue. It is then that he discovers a locket which a page of biblical verses which eventually leads him to the discovery of a magnificent diamond which is, unfortunately, cursed to bring ill tidings to all whom possess it. The nefarious Mr. Mayhew hunts down the smugglers and, despite the thoroughly despicable and never understood nature of this man, John still manages to fall head over heels for his daughter. A stirring confrontation on a beach, a harrowing escape along the Zigzag - a perilous cliff side sheep path, months in a cave, a daring descent into an overly deep well, a trip to Holland, an equally stirring encounter with a parsimonious jewel merchant, ten years of penal servitude, an even more stirring storm at sea, a heroic instance of self sacrifice and a moral lesson truly learned and practiced round out the tale in truly splendid, page turning fashion. A particular merit of the story is the subtle nuances of Falkner's descriptive writing. He is quite meticulous in his description of the changing months and seasons of the year, as well as the varying atmospheric conditions at different times of the day. For example: 'the night was a deep sort of blue, and the heat of the day did not die ... but left the air still warm and balmy'. The natural topography of the Dorset coastline also figures prominently in many scenes of the novel. Overall, exceptionally well done, although its relatively pure and quit simple moral theme makes it more for a young adult audience than for the more jaded adult reader.

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