When the Goth pirates attacked his father’s ship, Valdur was hiding in a barrel of pickles with his pet dragon, Ragna. He heard his father cry out, ‘By Odin’s hairy toes, it’s the Goths!’ Then there was the sound of lots of fighting. And, right next to him, there was also the sound of the last pickle being eaten.
Valdur and the few remaining ghost Vikings are on a mission to save his father and the rest of the crew after they are kidnapped by his deadly enemy Germanicus Bottom and his shipload of ghostly Goths. To help Valdur, there’s a lookout called Ivar Lostoffen, a cook called Reiner Rankbreath who looks like a cow, his apprentice Hilda, and Gunnar Shortas, the midget cabin boy. And of course Ragna, Valdur’s dog (who just might be a dragon). There is adventure to be had, danger to be overcome, bargains to resist and real non-ghost ships to avoid if they are to have a chance of effecting a rescue. Each chapter includes ghostly illustrations by Hanna Cormick.
‘Valdur the Viking and the Ghostly Goths’ is a comically spooky Viking, Gothic adventure for young independent readers. Valdur doesn’t really want to captain his father’s ship – he would rather just be playing with his dog/dragon. But someone has to take charge and it has to be him. He blunders and bluffs his way along, with and despite the assistance of his incapable crew, overcoming piracy attempts and almost-detections by living humans and their ships. Embedded in the humour and the adventure are titbits about Goths and Vikings and life at sea. Recommended for newly independent readers in junior- mid primary years.
Valdur the Viking and the Ghostly Goths, Craig Cormick
Ford Street Publishing 2016
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller