The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons, by Barbara Mariconda, was published in 2012 by Katherine Tegen.
An enchanted flute that vibrates when danger is near, sparkling mist that unlocks a drawer of family secrets, and a bookcase that expands to conceal her hiding place—these are the bits of magic Lucy P. Simmons has experienced since her parents drowned at sea. The magic is helping Lucy keep her house—Father’s beloved “ship on shore”—out of the hands of her greedy uncle Victor. Lucy thinks the magic is coming from Marni, a mysterious woman who seems to be one with the sea itself…and who bears a striking resemblance to the mythical siren in the painting in Father’s study. Together, Lucy and Marni devise a plan to stop Uncle Victor’s conniving ways. In the process, Lucy makes unexpected friends and discovers that courage may be the most powerful magic of all. But will it be enough to prevail in the face of her evil uncle?
I’m not sure how I feel about this book. On the one hand, I think some of it is very beautiful. The descriptions of magic and the emphasis on the sea and sailing are some of the better prose in the book. The visual image of the house’s transformation at the end is striking. I also really like the cover art and the little glimpses of alternate-America (or, I guess, magic America). And it’s a good story, for the most part, although I thought Uncle Victor was over-the-top.
On the other hand, I felt that this book was incomplete. Is there supposed to be a second book? A number of things were left unresolved, such as who Marni is and the mystery of Lucy’s Aunt Pru. It also ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger, which gave me the feeling that Lucy’s adventures hadn’t even started—that what I had been reading was just a precursor. I also felt the title didn’t quite fit, since the end of the book shows that Lucy is just starting her voyage. I suppose the title could mean a metaphorical voyage rather than a literal one.
I also felt as if the magic and the flute could have been much better explained. Why was the magic there? Was it attached to the flute? Why did it want to protect the house? What’s up with that song Lucy was singing, the one with no words? I initially thought the book would be about Lucy finding the words to the song that was mentioned so many times as not having any lyrics. But I guess not, since apparently that wasn’t important at all. Or maybe it will be, in the future, if there’s another book?
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Genre: Fantasy, Realistic, Middle Grade
I picked up the ivory-handled magnifying glass from Father’s desk and approached the painting. With trembling hands I held the glass up, and the circle behind it sprang into view, increasing impressively in both size and detail.
The wavy-edged imaged in the glass fairly sparkled as it tripled in size. And I stared at the siren in the moonlit sea approaching the ship, her silvery hair streaming out behind her.
I shook my head and stepped away from the painting. Perhaps my imagination was getting the better of me, but the siren in the painting and the woman on the path could have been one and the same.