Warning! This review contains spoilers!
The Ship from Wolfskill by George Beckman is a historical fiction, steampunk-esque western tale told from the gentle, naive perspective of Will, a young man who dreams of flying. A fanciful story that floats its characters from childhood to adulthood in that turbulent sea called adolescence, this YA novel is sure to capture the imagination of any youngster who wishes they could join the clouds.
Unsettled from their simple lives by the Freebooters – inexplicable ne’er-do-wells who have sprung up to threaten the western landscape – friends Will, Jose, and Finn band together when their village is attacked. Discovering Will’s late uncles’ amazing airship in the Levitrite (mysterious floating ore) mines, they work together to keep their families safe at Wolfskill Lodge while their fathers go to fight the Freebooters. With the women and children safely at the Lodge, the friends turn their attention to mastering their ship, the Cloud Queen, with the intention of helping their fathers with the Freebooter situation. Joined by Will’s childhood sweetheart, Laura, the young men begin gaining the skills to fight back. As they encounter Freebooters, they learn to take care of themselves, their ship, and each other.
Beckman brings the Cloud Queen to life with glowing descriptions and child-like wonder. He has a way of capturing young love that is both wholesome and honest. It’s Jose, however, that stands out like a gem to me. I sincerely enjoyed his take-charge attitude and the fact that this bilingual young man really seems to be the “hero” our main character, Will, wants to be.
Overall, the Ship from Wolfskill was an enjoyable read with lots of action and endearing characters. YA readers and western fans won’t be disappointed!