Sunday, 31 January 2021

Draden's Whale by Grant Pollerd

Draden's Whale by Grant Pollerd
Self published on the 27th June 2019.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook via Kobo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On an ocean, where marines hunt pirates who hunt whalers who hunt whales, an animal-loving orphan will find out what it is like to be both predator and prey.

Draden, a fifteen-year-old boy trapped in a brutal island orphanage, finds solace in nurturing Maggie, a motherless lamb. When Draden is caught rescuing Maggie from the feast for the start of whaling season, the matron sentences him to ten lashes. A visiting captain cuts him a deal to escape the lash and the matron forever, on one cruel condition: he helps the captain hunt whales.

After the whaling ship's destination is revealed to be the last untapped whaling grounds, guarded by the man who tore Draden's family apart, the famed pirate Silverbeard, Draden must decide what and who he is willing to kill to gain vengeance.

"Treasure Island" meets "Moby Dick", "Draden's Whale" is a high-seas adventure where the answers to moral questions are deadly.

In an unexpected coincidence, I found myself reading two whaling-themed novels this month, To Ride A White Horse and Draden's Whale. The two are very different books with Draden's Whale having the feel of a classic high seas adventure tale. I think it would be an appropriate story for teenage readers as the central character is a fifteen-year-old boy, and could also suit reluctant readers because Pollerd keeps up an energetic pace throughout the book. There's never a dull moment!

I liked Pollerd's convincing portrayal of Draden, especially the way we get to see his increasing maturity as the book progresses. After years living in the sheltered orphanage environment, Draden encounters a number of totally unfamiliar situations in fairly rapid succession and, as readers, we see his thoughts and outlook shaped by each event. The brutal world of the whaling ships was dangerous for the sailors with their lives and vessels frequently threatened by storms, pirate attacks and the violent thrashing of the huge whales they hunted. I felt this precariousness really came across well, and personal loss is something which young Draden struggles to accept. The gruesome reality of whale processing provides some stomach-churning moments too.
I enjoyed reading this adventure novel, even though I don't think I fit into its natural target audience. I was interested to discover whether Draden would eventually find a place that suited his temperament and his moral stance, and I appreciated the lively interactions between the characters. Pollerd has a good ear for realistic dialogue. There's a positive message too which fits naturally into the story. I liked that Draden's Whale got me thinking while also keeping me entertained.

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Grant Pollerd / Historical fiction / Books from Australia


  1. I like seeing a character's growth throughout the novel. Glad you enjoyed this one, age really is nothing but a number and it's also true with recommended age for books. :)