Victoria McKernan’s The Devil’s Paintbox told the gripping tale of 16-year-old Aiden Lynch and his struggle to survive in the post-Civil War Pacific Northwest. The sequel, Son of Fortune, carries the young hero into new territory.
Fleeing Seattle after a vicious encounter that left his opponent dead, Aiden earns passage to San Francisco by caring for polar bears bound for a zoo. Aiden then lands a job as a tutor, but adventure is always right around the corner. With a ship won in a card game, he is soon heading to an island off the coast of Peru, from where guano is exported to the U.S. as highly prized fertilizer.
On his ship, Aiden finds himself part of a complex web of relationships, as the competing ship owners vie for the favor of the island’s manager and while away the days until their ships can be loaded. But as each day goes by, Aiden’s horror increases as he learns more about the Chinese laborers and the appalling mining conditions on the island.
Using her prodigious research skills, McKernan paints a vivid picture of 19th-century life without shying away from complex subjects like race relations. Readers will find Aiden to be an engaging hero, struggling to make sense of the world and to find a code to live by.