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by S. E. Hinton
Tor, September 2004
256 pages
ISBN: 0765305631

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Jamie Sommers had a hard life living with the nuns after his mother died. He grew up to be a violent young man who loved to drink and fight. Eventually he took to the sea where he met Kellen Quinn who became a father figure to him and his partner in crime. Kellen and Jamie had many adventures but nothing compared to what Jamie encounters at Hawkes Harbor, Delaware.

Living in a boarding house, Jamie hears about an island where the wealthy Hawkes family used to live, and where there is supposed to be buried treasure. One night he goes to the island and finds a cave with a coffin bound with chains. Jamie unlocks the chains and opens the coffin and frees Grenville Hawkes, a vampire, who has been in the coffin for centuries and is filled with anger. He immediately attacks Jamie, but doesn't go so far as to kill him -- he bites him just enough to make Jamie his slave to do his bidding.

HAWKES HARBOR is the first novel written for adults by S E Hinton, a young adult novelist. It is also her first book in 15 years.

The novel takes place between 1950 and 1968 but it's almost impossible to remember that at times. There's lots of talk about pirates, fighting for treasure, drinking, and general brawling that makes it too easy for the reader to forget that the story is supposed to be set in modern times. The book resembles other adventure novels like TREASURE ISLAND, and I had to remind myself that it was supposed to be set in the middle of the 20th century when the book constantly made me think that it was placed in the 1880s.

Throughout the course of the novel the reader is taken back and forth in time, as we learn about Jamie, Kellen, and Grenville's histories. It happens so often that it gets confusing.

The beginning section of HAWKES HARBOR is very much a young adult's book while the rest of the novel only escapes the label by the writer's use of mature material. But adding a few sex scenes and some curse words doesn't make a story into adult fare. These scenes and the language used in them don't fit with the type of narrative used through the rest of the novel.

I started to enjoy HAWKES HARBOR a little more after the vampire's entrance into the story. Reading about Grenville's life and his relationship with Jamie held my interest - that is, until things happened that were never explained, such as how Grenville suddenly was no longer a vampire.

Although HAWKES HARBOR is not a terrible book, it's good for a weekend's read, but I have to suggest that Ms Hinton might stick to young adult novels. With a few good edits, this book can easily be transformed into something young readers would enjoy. As it stands it's not quite in the league of mainstream novels written for adults.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, November 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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