Forty Testoons is a story full of personal and political conflict. Father Ralph Fletcher, a young English priest, is offered his first post as a minister of a fishing crew in faraway Newfoundland. As he questions God’s plan for him, Father Ralph discovers that he is being drawn into a political conspiracy. He slowly comes to realize the devastating effects that the plot – to replace King Henry VII with a Yorkist pretender – will have on his English homeland. Father Ralph struggles with his role and comes to understand that he is not the only one being swept into the madness; the natives, called Beothuk, also play a major part.
The story is told from the point of view of Father Ralph, who writes the story in a journal when he finds himself stranded in Newfoundland. His thoughts and actions reveal the characters. By using this style of writing, though, I felt that Fisk limited their depth. The book contains a diverse range of individuals and personalities, but Father Ralph’s account only allowed me to see the Beothuk and the English crew as they interacted with him.
The conspiracy is revealed slowly throughout the story. As Father Ralph experiences moral and religious conflicts, the conspirators are influenced by his reactions. Even to the end of the book, I was kept wondering about the plot’s final outcome. Forty Testoons is a fascinating story of intrigue that holds the reader’s attention.