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Robert Vincent
The Voyage Part I
"It is 1832 as the USS Hayes sails the Indian Ocean, guided by its lord and master, Captain Gellins. Meantime a shipmate is wrongly accused of stealing and faces the fatal lash. Likewise, he is just one of many who have been accused of false charges: others who have already met their end at the gratings; all from the lies supplied to the captain by shipmate Penderghast. Who can tell what will happen if certain other shipmates take the law into their own hands to try and right this injustice. And if the plot succeeds, what may follow? The Voyage: Part I is the tale of a young sailor’s journey as he becomes embroiled in events beyond his control and through an act of sacrifice ironically unleashes an ancient curse."
Vincent’s tense maritime drama centers on issues of justice at sea. Jedediah Brown, a young crewman aboard the USS Hayes, a ship under the command of the enigmatic Captain Gellins in 1832. In between hosting foreign dignitaries and navigating the Indian Ocean, Jedediah and his shipmates’ days pass with backbreaking labor and spirited camaraderie. When crewmate Pat Tobin is wrongfully accused by Jonas Penderghast, their fellow shipman, everything changes on board the Hayes. Penderghast, readers learn, has similarly condemned several other men to the fate that Tobin faces—death by lashing. Tobin’s punishment, the crew decides, crosses a line, and Jedediah quickly gets swept up in a ship-wide conspiracy to murder Penderghast without tipping off Captian Gellins. But the bloodthirsty Penderghast won’t be easy to outsmart, and Jedediah learns that there may be some forces beyond any man’s control or understanding.

Lovers of historical fiction and tales of the high seas will find much to love in Vincent’s epic adventure, including some surprise elements. Jedediah is advised to “keep yer ears open and yer bonebox shut” as the plot against Penderghast touches up against aspects of fantasy and horror that will keep readers on edge and thrill mature audiences with iron stomachs. The vivid, irresistible opening pages make clear that The Voyage’s genre moorings are complex and, more pressingly, that Vincent is committed to period language and detail: “Someone had to kill Jacob Penderghast. All five hundred aboard knew it, long ere they roused Pat Tobin from his bed and spread-eagled him on the spar for his anointing.”

That commitment means that some of these sea dogs’ dialogue can be challenging to parse. Still, Vincent deftly captures the rich yet somehow raw tone and style of nineteenth-century literature—think Melville meets Lovecraft. Part dark fantasy, part modern spin on the novels of the past, The Voyage is a page-turning thriller perfect for the Halloween season.

Takeaway: This hair-raising high seas adventure will keep fans of historical fiction and horror gripped to the last page.

Great for fans of: William Hope Hodgson’s The Ghost Pirates, Dan Simmons’s The Terror.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-