The survival on a stranded island is a commonly used theme in fiction. Be it in TV Shows like Lost or books like Robinson Crusoe or Lord of the Flies, this theme enriches the imaginative power of both the audience and the authors. Dane Huckelbridge is an American author who mostly publishes smaller essays for journals and magazines. Castle of Water is his debut novel in which two fundamentally different characters have to survive on a small deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
These two main protagonists of this story are Bartholomew (Barry) Bleecker and Sophie Ducel. Barry was a banker at a New York investment bank. He never enjoyed his work and was more interested in arts, particularly painting. One day he decided to quit his job and dedicates his life to painting. The story begins at a small airport on Tahiti, where Barry booked a flight to the island of Hiva Oa to visit the grave of his favorite artist Paul Gauguin. On the same flight is the young woman Sophie Ducel with her husband. The French couple was having their honeymoon holidays on Tahiti and are on the same flight as Barry to visit the grave of the singer Jacques Brel. The aircraft went into a storm and crashed – leaving Barry and Sophie the only survivor on a small island in the middle of nowhere.
On the island, the characters have to learn how to survive and also to get along with each other. Food is spare and only available in the form of bananas, bird eggs and fish. Potable water and a shelter are also hard to come by. Luckily, they could obtain a survival kit from the plane with important items like a first-aid kit, a knife, a solar still and a fishing line. They are able to comply their lives with the wild nature and also have to overcome personal issues. Over the course of the book, the protagonists get closer and closer together and eventually fall in love with each other. Without spoiling to much of the story, it is safe to say that the book’s ending is quite sad but also gives hope at the same time.
Dane Huckelbridge succeeded in writing a gripping story with credible protagonists. While at the first part of the book, the story is rather slow-paced and the character are (purposely) written rather stereotypical, the second part is way better. The characters change and become more realistic and likeable. Especially the end of the story is very touching and will definitely stay in the reader’s mind for a long time. Castle of Water is a successful debut novel that makes the reader hungry for more stories from the author.
Huckelbridge, Dane (2017): Castle of Water, HQ, London.