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2023 Bookish Books Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 30 books. 30% done!

2023 Literary Escapes Challenge

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My Progress:

26 / 51 states. 51% done!

2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

19 / 25 books. 76% done!

2023 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

31 / 50 books. 62% done!

Booklist Queen's 2023 Reading Challenge

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36 / 52 books. 69% done!

2023 52 Club Reading Challenge

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41 / 52 books. 79% done!

2023 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

27 / 40 books. 68% done!

2023 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2023 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

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9 / 25 books. 36% done!

2023 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Book Bingo Reading Challenge

19 / 25 books. 76% done!

2023 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

57 / 109 books. 52% done!

Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Ghost Ship: An Intriguing Account of An Unsolved Maritime Mystery

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Back in November, I published a Top Ten Tuesday post about my macabre love for stories about maritime disasters. Lark recommended Ghost Ship: The Mysterious True Story of the Mary Celeste and Her Missing Crew by Brian Hicks as one I might enjoy. Lark never steers me wrong, so I eagerly sought out a copy of the book. I'd heard of the Mary Celeste, vaguely, but really didn't know her story, which goes a little something like this:

Originally named Amazon, the Mary Celeste was a 100-foot long brigantine built in Nova Scotia in 1860-61. "A simple but handsome sailing ship" (19), she was designed to carry cargo and be manned by a small crew. Some believe the craft was cursed from the start as she seemed to have more than the usual number of mishaps over the course of her lifetime. Bedeviled or not, the ship became widely known in 1872. Rechristened as Mary Celeste in 1869, it was chartered in 1870 by a German businessman to carry 1700 barrels of industrial alcohol from New York City to Genoa, Italy. Captain Benjamin Briggs, who would be at the helm, brought his wife and their 2-year-old daughter along on the journey. Seven crewmen were also aboard when the craft left New York Harbor on November 5. About a month later, the ship was spotted floating aimlessly in the middle of the North Atlantic by the crew of the Dei Gratia. No one was steering the craft. Nor was anyone on board. Such "ghost ships" were seen fairly frequently on the high seas for a variety of reasons. What made this one different was that no one who had been on board was ever heard from again. A variety of strange things—like the fact that all of the men's foul weather gear, which would have been worn if they abandoned ship in a vicious storm, was still on the Mary Celeste—gave rise to theories of every kind. Had there been a mutiny on board? Did pirates descend on the ship, killing everyone in sight? Was it all an elaborate insurance scam? Could it have been aliens? Sea monsters? A Bermuda Triangle-ish disappearance? What really occurred to those ten doomed souls?

Ghost Ship is a fascinating book about an intriguing unsolved mystery. Hicks offers a compelling, well-researched account of the incident, including both the known facts and the fictions that grew out of the strange tale. His emphasis on the ship's captain and his seafaring family makes the story especially intimate and personal. I also thought the sections about how the tale of the Mary Celeste changed over the years and became part of supernatural/Bermuda Triangle/alien lore were especially interesting. Because of all these elements and more, I found Ghost Ship to be an engrossing, well-told tale that kept me eagerly turning pages. 

(Readalikes: I've read a lot of books about maritime disasters, but never one about a real mysterious, unsolved maritime mystery, so I'm not sure what to compare this one to. Any ideas?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

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Zero Days by Ruth Ware


Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen

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