The Strider and the Regulus by Tricia D. Wagner (The Star of Atlantis; 1)

Book Blurb:

A starry-eyed boy. A cryptic map. A mythical treasure.
What perils await in the chasing of dreams?

A famed pirate relic—the Star of Atlantis—lies forgotten on the rugged Welsh coast, where waves and stone clash and where creatures of legend hold sway.

When thirteen-year-old Swift finds a map to the treasure, he sets out to claim it and prove his worth to his skeptical brothers who seem determined to thwart his every step.

To tease out the secrets of the Star of Atlantis, Swift must take on the gallant Celtic Sea with its azurite waves, its capricious winds, its enigmas… its monsters.

And to realize his dream, he must face the most formidable challenge of all—his own father.

I received this book from the author for free via BookSirens. All comments and opinions are entirely my own and this review is voluntary.

Rayleigh’s Review:

Thirteen years old and full of wanderlust for the sea, Swift never goes anywhere without his book, The Star of Atlantis, tucked nicely into his pocket. Filled with stories of treasure, pirates, sea shanties, monsters, and everything that could lure a young boy to the sea, the book is enough to drive a wedge between Swift and his family. Are the stories true? Swift believes they are.

Swift and I have one thing in common for certain: an obsession with pirates. Any kind of pirate or Viking story that takes place on the high seas filled with monsters are auto-buys for me. So, The Strider and the Regulus was a pretty quick “yes” when I came across it. Though it is very well written, and a charming story, it’s not what I thought it was.

Firstly, I think the blurb is misleading. It brags of adventure on the sea, monsters hidden in the depths, and a boy searching for his treasure. What it is, though, is more of a thoughtful, allegorical lesson between a boy and his father. Again, it is masterfully written and quite entrancing, but it isn’t really a YA adventure. The “adventure” is his own imagination while enduring lessons from his father. Again, the story is very good, but it doesn’t match the blurb at all (and I’ve re-read the blurb 3 times trying to figure out if I missed something…). I was also expecting fantasy (which was assumed based off the cover and blurb, in my defense, though I see it’s categorized as ‘literary fiction’ now. Whoops.). There’s no time period mentioned anywhere in the book, but the Regulus (ship) has a motor and when the boys went camping, they carried a cooler full of beer bottles. So? Present day? I’m not sure, again, there’s no context provided.

If the blurb were the only issue, I would rate it 5 stars because that’s my mistake, not the author’s. However, even placing the book in the right genre and taking my surprise out of the equation, I didn’t care for the message presented. The father, Justus, felt very manipulative to me. He’s supposed to be viewed as an “Odin” type of father-figure; this almighty, all-knowing, father who knows his sons better than they know themselves and puts them on their chosen paths; and I just, really didn’t care for that in a “real life” setting. Fantasy would be different, but this is literary fiction, so the message is the primary drive of the story. Parents, as much as I love them, do not know their kids better than they know themselves, especially *especially* if they never have open conversations about life before having some huge, dreaded “talk” about what their father has decided they should do with their life. And the entire way that the father “trapped” Swift for this talk and used Swift’s passions against him in a way to beat him down until Swift was vulnerable… the whole thing was manipulative, especially with the way it ended. I’m just, not okay with presenting young readers a book that essentially tells them that their parents are all-knowing, god-type characters who have all the answers to life. That’s just bogus, and like I said, if this were fantasy, I’d view it differently. But it’s literary fiction, which, again, is primarily written to convey a message from character development, rather than plot. So, I’m very torn on what to take as “just part of the story” or “this is the message I want you to remember”.

I don’t want to turn this review into a bash without getting the full story, so I feel committed to read book 2 to see how Swift handles this situation and to ensure that my opinions are correct here. Thankfully, book 2 is already out, so you can hope to see my review of The Star of Atlantis in the upcoming weeks! As of now, I’ll leave this rating at 3 stars, and that is subject to change based on how book 2 ends…

Trigger/content warnings: Alcohol use (not detailed) | Mild cursing | Slight spooks | Mild sexual remarks



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