Drift House: The First Voyage
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Drift House: The First Voyage

by Dale Peck

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In the tradition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and A Wrinkle in Time comes the first book in an exciting fantasy series about three siblings' adventures on the high sea—the Sea of Time, that is.

After 9/11, Susan and her younger brothers, Charles and Murray, are sent to live with their uncle Farley in Canada. Uncle Farley's house


In the tradition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and A Wrinkle in Time comes the first book in an exciting fantasy series about three siblings' adventures on the high sea—the Sea of Time, that is.

After 9/11, Susan and her younger brothers, Charles and Murray, are sent to live with their uncle Farley in Canada. Uncle Farley's house looks like a ship perched at the edge of the sea, but it's not until a great flood comes that the house's name—Drift House—starts to make sense. Floating aimlessly on the Sea of Time, the ship-like house begins to yield its many secrets—including a mural that seems to predict the future, a dumbwaiter that enables Murray to travel into the future and back again, and a parrot historian who's also a gifted translator. But when a clan of diabolical mermaids trick the children and their uncle into helping them carry out a plan that will stop time forever, it will take all of Susan's ingenuity—along with some help from a great whale, a band of pirates, and a magic carpet—to set things straight.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Although this story is set in 2001, the fabric of time itself fluctuates in Peck's (Martin and John, for adults) thrilling debut novel for young people. Following the 9/11 attacks, Susan and her half-brothers, Charles and Murray (could the brothers' names be a nod to Charles Wallace Murray, one of the time-traveling children in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time?) are sent to live with their Uncle Farley in Canada, until things are calmer in America. But the children notice strange things about the boat-like mansion that is to be their new home: Drift House seems "crooked," a dumbwaiter magically delivers whatever food they desire, and Uncle Farley's parrot has a better-than-average grasp of the English language. When they awake one morning to find the house adrift on the Sea of Time, Uncle Farley reveals that Drift House is a "transtemporal vessel," capable of navigating time. Murray, the youngest, disappears into the dumbwaiter and returns with hazy memories of his own future, and Susan is drafted by mermaids for a special mission. Peck depicts an affectionate bond among the siblings (Charles, brilliant but ignored as the middle sibling states, "I am not a boy-slave and I am not a baby and I am tired of being sent away!"), and an eccentric but credible guardian in Uncle Farley. Readers will flip madly through the many pages of this book to see how the siblings navigate the hazards on the Sea of Time and get Drift House safely back to shore. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
In the aftermath of 9/11, the parents of Susan, Charles and Murray send them to stay with their Uncle Farley, hoping to keep them safe and away from the turmoil in New York City. But after only a day spent at Uncle Farley's home on the Bay of Eternity, they are cast adrift on the Sea of Time, summoned there by mermaids demanding Susan's assistance in the rescue of a mermaid captured by the Time Pirates. What follows is an adventure unlike any other. What begins as an effort to save themselves from being sucked into the Great Drain evolves into a race to save time itself. While the children act as siblings do and find it difficult at times to work together, they all find it important to save each other, each using their own talents and gaining a deeper understanding of the world, time and their place within each. This engaging tale is sure to garner the attention and imagination of any child with a fondness for fantasy tales. However, the text may be too advanced for those without a clear understanding of the passage of time and who may require adult assistance to understand the story as a whole. But parents with a fondness for reading aloud to their children will find it worth the effort to share the story. 2005, Bloomsbury Publishing, Ages 8 to 12.
—Danielle Williams
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Drift House chronicles the extraordinary experiences of three children placed in the guardianship of their eccentric uncle in the aftermath of September 11th. Uncle Farley lives in the nautically designed Drift House, which is situated on the Bay of Eternity in Canada. Shortly after their arrival, 12-year-old Susan and her two younger brothers discover that the mysterious house is actually a ship, and that they have unwittingly embarked on a voyage across the Sea of Time. What ensues is a thrilling and perilous adventure in which the children meet an almost superfluous cast of fantastical creatures, including a crew of Time Pirates and a band of malevolent mermaids who serve as minions of the wicked undersea Queen Octavia. When Susan is commandeered into playing a pivotal role in a diabolical plot to stop time, she must resist an otherworldly power in order to triumph over evil. This otherwise fast-moving and compelling fantasy/adventure becomes somewhat mired in convoluted discourse on metaphysics and complex explanations of temporality, which includes an overtly didactic message regarding the ramifications of humankind's proclivity for racing headlong toward the future. However, readers will find themselves drawn in by the appealing characters, generous doses of humor, and the palpable presence of the narrator, who addresses readers directly, sharing intimate details and inviting them to take part in the story as it unfolds.-Debbie Lewis O'Donnell, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Three children join an ineffectual uncle in a Quebec house that turns out to be a ship capable of sailing across the bathtub-like Sea of Time in this long and self-conscious crossover novel. Leaning heavily on characters with either conveniently patchy memories or more knowledge than they logically should have, Peck pits 12-year-old Susan, her geeky little brother Charles and Murray (who's five at the start but after a solo trip into the future comes back an old man magically disguised as a child) against the last of the powerful, petulant mermaids-whose Queen is set on closing the Great Drain that impels all life, death and change. Readers who don't mind talking animals, imbedded literary references ("curiouser and curiouser," a winged "butterfrog" comments at one point) or words like "virago" in their fantasy, may be willing to embark with this doughty crew-but as Charles comments with tiresome frequency on his sister's fondness for British vocabulary, "it's affected." Note broad hints of sequels to come. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.49(w) x 7.18(h) x 1.25(d)
Age Range:
10 - 15 Years

Meet the Author

Dale Peck is an acclaimed author of many books for adults as well as a reviewer and critic. This is his first book for young readers. He lives in New York City.

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