This book, like Mister Creecher, is another homage to a piece of fiction that had a huge effect on me when I first encountered it. The work in question is a poem this time: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The illustration here shows the dead crew rising up to sail the ship.
I was read the poem first when I was about eight or nine I would guess. I returned to it again and again, discovering later that it was a poem that had been illustrated many times since its first publication, Gustave Doré's being arguably the most famous.
The poem is the story of a man who is forced by a curse to retell the story of a doomed voyage, in which a ship is blown off course and ends up in the Antarctic ice. The spirits of the crew are raised by the visits of an albatross and it is the wanton killing of that bird by the storyteller that sends the ship and crew through a bizarre series of torments.
In the course of the poem, the mariner says that he stood beside his 'brother's son' and I have shifted the story from the mariner, to this nephew and imagined the boys life and the boy's part in the story and the subsequent curse.
More about this book nearer the time.