In the 18th century, generations of Rathbones sailed the Connecticut coastline hunting sperm whale and building an empire from their success. The patriarch was Moses, a man with many wives who was said to be able to sense sperm whales off the coast when they were still leagues away.
But time has passed, and by 1859 the whales have left the coast. Mercy Rathbone’s father has been at sea for seven years, and Mercy has lived an isolated life being tutored by her uncle Mordecai while her mother carves whalebone and waits for her husband to either return or be declared dead. Mercy is haunted by memories of a brother who no one will acknowledge has ever existed. The Rathbones and the sea seem inextricably linked. Even their house is built from bone, and the attic is the hull of a ship, the bottom half of a fifty-foot square rigged brig hoisted up and bolted on the house for a roof.
When Mercy sees someone she shouldn’t, her life is suddenly at risk. She and her uncle are pursued, forced to set sail in a small boat and embark on an odyssey full of bizarre adventures and discoveries along the coast.
The Rathbones is a literary adventure, inspired by the Odyssey and Moby Dick. It is rich in language and the world of the sea and the sperm whale. Mysteries of the past are revealed, Mercy finds the truth about her missing brother and father, and the future of the Rathbones is finally settled.