I first heard of this book when the cover artist (Gillian Gamble) posted about it on Facebook. I saw the lighthouse and was immediately interested, as somehow, despite only featuring prominently in one book that I can think of, I associate lighthouses with Enid Blyton.
Haven Point is not a typical peninsula with a lighthouse. Normal peninsulas are generally accessible to people – and if they aren’t there are fences or walls to claim ownership and keep people out. Haven Point has barriers – magical ones. They are invisible and keep the peninsula out of sight and out of mind. They only let in the sort of people who will fit in.
Old Benevolent – Old Ben for short – is the lighthouse, where some of the inhabitants of Haven Point live, though there are so many now that cottages have sprung up to accommodate all the rest.
Once upon a time Cap’n lived alone in Old Ben (well, alone unless you count the kitten living in his beard). And then the first of his Wrecklings arrived. Alpha Lux (so named as Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and she was found in a Lux soap box) is the first, and our narrator.
The Wrecklings are so called as, well, they literally go wrecking. However, they are not like One-Ear, Nosey and Bart. Or at least, they are not very like them.
Firstly, they only wreck ships from companies with a dodgy reputation, Cap’n himself calling them seafaring Robin Hoods. It’s all handled carefully – the boats are not truly wrecked, just helped to unload their cargo by the mermaids that live off the shore of Haven Point. The mermaids then cause the ships’ crews to forget all about it with their magical songs, and the boats carry on. Lastly, they only wreck as it’s the only way to get certain supplies – things beyond what they can grow and make at Haven Point. Although the barriers are there to keep the outsiders out, the Wrecklings don’t venture out into the outside either.
The mystery of Haven Point
The mystery, to begin with, is who or what is watching Alpha? Alpha notices a glint of light up on the cliffs a few times, in a place they’ve been banned from playing in as it’s dangerous. If this was the Famous Five they’d be shouting FIELD GLASSES straight away, but, Alpha’s not immediately sure. That’s partly because although she has a bad feeling, like someone’s watching, and there’s danger afoot, her the barriers aren’t meant to let anyone like that in.
She does investigate, though, along with her best friend, and finds an intruder.
Then the mystery becomes who exactly is the intruder, and is anything he’s said actually the truth?
This one is harder for Alpha to work out as the adults – how very dare they – take over rather a lot. From what Alpha’s seen and heard, the intruder isn’t actually as evil as they think, but that’s not automatically believed by everyone.
A note on what I said there – about the adults. Not all the wrecklings that arrive are babies. Some are older children or even teenagers. They all turn up one way or another, guided by some sort of magic that leads them to this safe haven – or what had been a safe haven. It doesn’t feel so safe with an intruder amongst them, especially when they start to think that someone on the inside has been helping him.
With the truth revealed, the people of Haven’s Point come to a crossroads. Their enemies were definitely bad people, but they force the wrecklings to have to reconsider their safe space. Is it so safe, keeping themselves isolated and insular?
This one is perhaps more of a stretch than my usual if you like Blytons, as it’s a rather different blend of fantasy and adventure than Blyton wrote.
It does have a lighthouse, caves, at least one secret passage, a bunch of children too smart for their own good who ignore the adults and go investigating (that could be describing the Scooby Doo gang, now I think about it) and apart from the wrecking, a fairly strong sense of morals. Lessons are learned about judging people, treating them badly, telling lies and so on.
Besides all that it is a very good read and even had me shedding a few tears near the end.
One final thing
I haven’t mentioned one part of the story. I am swithering between calling it integral and irrelevant, which are pretty much opposites.
On one hand, the story could have been written without it and it still would have worked. But then it would have just been a book like any other children’s fantasy novel you could pick up on any bookshelf in any bookshop or library.
On the other hand, this element is important to the author and her identity, and is something that makes the book stand out as an important piece of representation.
If you’ve read the blurb, you’ll know what I’m talking about as it’s not kept a secret – the fact that all the residents of Haven’s Point are disabled is not the secret of Haven Point.
I didn’t lead with this fact – or mention it until this point, as it’s woven so naturally into the story that it feels like making a big deal about nothing as it’s certainly not done to be edgy. I also know that there are a lot of people who would immediately label it virtue signalling, woke (or indeed the wokey cokey, whatever that is) or some other nonsense. I hope (probably in vain) that promoting the plot of the book by itself first may encourage more people to give it a chance.
Of course, while I’ve used words like irrelevant and (not a) big deal, I know that it is actually important especially for disabled children. Disabilities are not commonly featured in any novels, including children’s books, so I can appreciate how important this book will be for disabled readers, allowing them to see themselves in the cast. Not only seeing themselves in the cast, actually, but in a large cast who are having adventures and not just being side-line characters.