Will Poole’s Island

Written by Tim Weed
Review by Richard Abbott

Will Poole’s Island explores an unusual portion of American history – the early colonial days of the seventeenth century. At this time, tiny isolated compounds on or near the coast were protected from the wilderness outside by a powerful mixture of wooden stockades, dogmatic authority, and superstition. Will Poole rebels against these strictures, first by solitary hunting trips, and then by befriending a Native American man. This in turn leads him into areas of spirituality which are anathema to his own town leaders. The two depart on a journey in quest of an island which I imagine is in the Caribbean, though en route there is another lengthy stay on Nantucket.

The author deliberately draws in to his historical fiction elements commonly classed as fantasy. It is left to the reader to decide how far these are real, and how far delusion or hysteria. I personally liked the inclusion of these “fantasy” elements, and felt that they invited contact with the world view of the Native American groups who shared the land with the colonists. This was a world view which avoids and challenges the more rational classifications we are used to. However, some readers might not appreciate the mixture of genres. Also, there were times when use of these talents seemed too much of a “get out of jail free” card to effect resolution to a crisis.

Technically, the book has been well produced and well proof-read. The author includes a useful appendix explaining some of the background. He begins this with a quote about the meeting of world views, which I think could have been placed more powerfully at the start.

An interesting read exploring how the pursuit of personal destiny requires leaving behind the protection of one’s homeland. In parallel, it also explores the borderlands between historical fiction and fantasy.