Title: Mystery in the Frozen Lands
Author: Martyn Godfrey
Major Themes: Exploration, Sir John Franklin, Arctic, Northwest Passage, Inuit
Synopsis: 13-year-old Peter is with an expedition in the High Arctic, searching for Sir John Franklin’s missing expedition.
Mystery in the Frozen Lands was a great find! As soon as I started reading the introduction, I knew my boys would be interested. They were being pretty noisy at the time, so I simply started reading out loud without announcing that I would. Instantly, they quieted down and before I was finished reading the author’s note and the introduction in the front, they were hooked.
In this story, 13-year-old Peter is on a ship frozen into the ice far north in the Arctic. He has been there for a year and a half already, searching for his uncle, Sir John Franklin, and his missing expedition. The Franklin Expedition had set out 13 years earlier, in 1845, to discover the Northwest Passage, and were never seen again. This is the 40th expedition sent out to search for the missing explorers—will they find anything more than the other search parties?
We were fascinated all the way through this well-written book. While the author keeps to the known facts, he has fleshed out the story in a way that makes it a page-turner. It is written as a diary, by the fictitious ship’s boy of the Fox, commanded by Captain McClintock. All the other characters in the story are real, and the items they discovered from the Franklin Expedition are real. Peter is very intrigued by the mystery of Franklin’s disappearance, and can’t wait to solve the mystery, which still puzzles people today. Exactly what happened that caused Franklin and his men to act in such strange ways?
I highly recommend Mystery in the Frozen Lands for anyone who loves to read a good historical novel or is interested in real-life mysteries. This would also be a great resource to accompany a study of exploration or the Arctic, or even of the Inuit people, as it gives a lot of information about their culture.
I received a free ecopy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
WARNING: The first chapter discusses a suicide; chapter 3 mentions the Inuit’s custom of sharing wives. A few places have Peter daydreaming about his girl cousin back home, and he also discusses some of the Inuit’s spiritual beliefs a couple of times—be sure to discuss with your children what you believe as you read these chapters. Chapters 9 and 17 have some mild swearing—one sentence in each of those chapters.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12