The Mystery of Whale House…

21 May

A GSP release from Author of the Week: Hendrik van Oordt.

The Mystery of Whale House by Hendrik van Oordt

Shipped off to an aunt and uncle on remote Rew island while their parents are moving house, Frank, Dana and Martin are bored to death in a place without internet or even proper cell phone reception. All the locals talk about is the lobster catch. But just when our city-bred heroes decide to start boycotting their aunt’s fish soup, they hear a story about a mad woman and her son living in Whale House, a gothic monstrosity perched on an isolated peninsula up north. Cut off from the remainder of the island by a sudden storm, the three teens are forced to seek refuge in Whale House, where they discover a terrible secret. After considerable adventures, they come face to face with their captors, who cannot afford to let them escape…

Excerpt:

Whale House stands at the end of the world. Everybody on Rew Island has heard the story of the boy who tried to cross to the House for a dare and was swept away by the waves and drowned. For most of the year it is blanketed in fog and rain, making it impossible to reach. Even when the weather is fair, the ocean washes over the slippery causeway at high tide. And fair weather never lasts long over there. Aye, it is a dangerous place to visit.

     Thus began the story Mr. Buirr told Frank, Dana and Martin one morning in the little harbor of Rew.
     How the children hated Rew! They were on the island under serious protest. They disliked everything about it, particularly the total absence of internet connections. In fact, they considered their holiday a punishment and a ploy to get them away from their computers and their mp3 downloads.
     Of course, the trip was not meant to be a punishment. It was merely a practical solution to give their parents the breather needed to decorate the family’s new home. But try telling that to a boy who has to trade his videogames for old-fashioned board games or a girl who can no longer spend her evenings chatting online with her girlfriends!
     Only Martin, who was the youngest, had liked the idea of going to stay with an aunt and an uncle they had never met. He enjoyed adventure stories and he was sure Rew Island must have loads of hidden treasure. He had therefore been deeply disappointed when Uncle Robert told him laughingly that no pirates had ever visited the coast.
     “The only treasure we have is the oysters in the bay,” Uncle Robert said. Martin secretly disagreed. Oysters were no treasure. They looked disgusting when you opened them and they tasted worse.
     Even worse, Uncle Robert and Aunt Nelly expected you to eat everything on your plate and somehow, when Aunt Nelly looked at you, you didn’t dare to object that you’d rather have a hamburger than some slimy animal from the sea.
     Yes, Frank, Dana and Martin couldn’t wait to go home after their first few days on Rew Island.
     And they had just resolved to write their parents (their aunt had no telephone and mobile phones just didn’t seem to capture a signal on the island) when they met Mr. Buirr. They immediately forgot all about their plans to go home. It was the start of an adventure, though they didn’t know it yet.
     Aunt Nelly had become so tired of their hanging around the house that she had said, quite crossly, “It’s a beautiful day and I’ve got work to do. Why don’t you go and see Mr. Buirr? He’s that old man with the pipe down by the harbor and he’s got all the time in the world to tell you stories and keep you occupied.”
     “What kind of stories?” Martin asked eagerly.
     “Oh, I don’t know. He loves telling stories. Ask him about Whale House; that will keep him talking. After all, the whole island’s been on about it forever. Now, off you go!”
     She had only said it to get them out of the house, but she had been right. When they saw Mr. Buirr they were delighted. He was the best thing they had come across so far on the island. Even Dana, who was really only into animals, had to admit he was interesting.
     He looked as if he had sailed every one of the Seven Seas. You just knew that he must have lots of interesting stories to tell. In fact, he could have stepped straight out of a television series with his weathered face and deep blue eyes. The only thing missing was a parrot on his shoulder.
     And so they said politely “Good morning” to the bearded old sailor and stood waiting patiently while he finished mending his net, secretly hoping that he’d talk to them and tell them a thrilling story about Shanghai (which Martin wanted to hear), wonderful animals (Dana’s wish) or life on board a ship (Frank’s preference).
     Finally he put down his tools with a sigh, took out a pipe and said, “You’re the kids staying with the Coulders, ain’t that so?”
     The children nodded eagerly.
     The old man lit his pipe and, between puffs, said, “I guess Mrs. Coulder told you I’ve been round and about, right?” He chuckled when they nodded. “Well, I’ve seen a scary thing or two in my time and I didn’t have far to go. Them winter storms can put fear into the strongest fisherman. Aye.” He puffed quietly for a few moments.
     Before he could open his mouth to continue Martin interrupted, “Please, sir. What is Whale House?”
     The old man frowned unexpectedly in annoyance. “Who’s been telling you about Whale House? Your aunt, is it? Don’t she know better? Them women chatter far too much. They’re garrulous creatures and talk about things best left alone. Don’t you go to the House, I’m telling ye! It’s a dangerous place.
     “And the folks there don’t like visitors. They never did. Aye, the House is at the end of the world. I went there when a lad. I weren’t older than you,” (here he pointed his pipe at Dana, who was thirteen) “and I were that scared. The waves was crashing all over and when you saw one coming you had to run like the Divvil to miss it. I was nary swept away twice. These days the weather ain’t what it used to be.
     “You kids could cross now and no harm come to you but I wouldn’t recommend it! The House is a strange place. And it sure is the end of the world. Now you listen to me because I’m going to tell you a secret. But you’ve got to keep it secret, mind!”
     The children nodded enthusiastically, thrilled by Mr. Buirr’s hushed voice. They were ready to promise anything to hear his secret. The old man looked at them suspiciously, as if not certain how far he could trust them.
     “Tell us, please!” said Dana, who felt she would die if Mr. Buirr didn’t reveal his secret.
     “All right then. Ye won’t believe what I’m about to tell you and yet it’s the solemn truth, so help me!”

Links:

http://www.gypsyshadow.com/HendrikvanOordt.html#WHExc

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Mystery-Whale-House-Hendrik-Oordt-ebook/dp/B005D1CCNY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400684444&sr=8-1&keywords=the+mystery+of+whale+house

 

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