The best books about adventure on the High Seas

Who am I?

I loved the sea even when I was a child in a family that couldn’t afford to spend much time around it! Reading books, I was always drawn to adventure on the seas – the first book I can clearly remember reading was Pinocchio when I was about 8, and the last third with the Terrible Dogfish. My latest novel, Spirits of the Ice Forest, is all about Vikings and their struggle to establish a toehold on Vinland, as well as the Native Americans who resisted them, and both being seafaring people was a huge part of what attracted me to that chapter in history.


I wrote...

Off The Map

By Max Davine,

Book cover of Off The Map

What is my book about?

Written with the intention of capturing the spirit of novels of the era in which it is set, Off The Map is a nostalgic tribute to writers such as Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, and Robert Louis Stevenson. 

By 1873, the oceans, it's said, were tamed, at least that's what young French orphan girl Chanel Angeli thought when she settled down and married into a rich mining family by means of their charming, gorgeous heir Oliver Aubry. When Beaumont betrays and enslaves Oliver on the isolated piece of land, which is thought to be capital city of Atlantis, Chanel escapes and teams up with the devil-may-care captain of the Margeaux, endeavoring to rescue her husband, but along the way she finds, within herself, uncovering many mysteries of her own...

The books I picked & why

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Moby-Dick

By Herman Melville,

Book cover of Moby-Dick

Why this book?

If I have a passion in life that rivals literature and education, it’s the sea. This book might have started all of it at once. The imagery, the gothic atmosphere, the use of allegory, and the depth of the characters are just stunning and it is rightfully counted as one of the greatest novels ever composed.


Le Comte De Monte Cristo

By Alexandre Dumas,

Book cover of Le Comte De Monte Cristo

Why this book?

Whenever someone asks, c’est mon roman préféré. Un adventure sans égal – le drame, les personnages, les enjeux. It’s hard to imagine a serialized novel like this one capturing the public imagination to the degree that Game of Thrones did recently back in 1845, but that’s exactly what happened. You had to get the next chapter quickly because you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing spoilers about the latest installment.


Treasure Island

By Robert Louis Stevenson,

Book cover of Treasure Island

Why this book?

In keeping with books that influenced me to write Off The Map – and this is going back to 2003 when I started the novel – Treasure Island is high up there. I was usually discouraged to find a book that lacked a female character at all but when it comes to Treasure Island it’s just that perfect, succinct, exciting boys’ adventure you don’t get anymore.


Great Expectations

By Charles Dickens,

Book cover of Great Expectations

Why this book?

Yes, I know it lacks the sea, but Off The Map has a female lead for a reason and this book is it. I didn’t like Pip. He was arrogant, rude, and selfish. But Estella was so enchanting! She might have been an early crush for a 12-year-old me and I wanted a book that was about her, not Pip. She was a huge influence in how I created Chanel in Off The Map – the power and confidence in herself, and yet that sense of claustrophobia and isolation because the time and the place just don’t work for her.


Jamaica Inn

By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of Jamaica Inn

Why this book?

Off the Map is a tribute and to me the greatest tribute novel of all times is Jamaica Inn. It’s clearly a love letter from du Maurier to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, but given a much greater darkness and gravity. She breathed la vie de la vérité into Bronte’s vision and in doing so became every bit as influential as Bronte did with her novel. You read Cormac McCarthy’s Outer Dark or Blood Meridian – there’s the pale-faced preacher as the leader of the mysterious trio and as Judge Holden, respectively. A tribute to a tribute. Amazing, beautiful, worthy work.


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