three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
14-Jan-Feb-2005
By: 
S.E. Hinton
user_rating: 
0

A-HawkesHarborJamie Sommers, orphaned as a child, embarks on a debauched career on the high seas. He smuggles gems and guns, fights off enemies, lives life as a pirate, and generally courts trouble in exotic ports. Chance lands him in the small town of Hawkes Harbor, Delaware. Told in flashbacks from a mental asylum, Jamie relates a story of pure horror. Hawkes Harbor, turns out, held some nasty surprises—including Grenville Hawkes, a vampire who enslaved the hapless Jamie and drove him to insanity. Can Jamie conquer his demons?
Tor. 256 pages. $21.95. ISBN: 0765305631

Los Angeles Times 3 of 5 Stars
"[She] provides no preparation for the horror/fantasy plot twist. … If readers prepare themselves, they may be able to encounter the novel on its own terms and embrace once again the voice of a fabulous writer." Bernadette Murphy

NY Times Book Review 3 of 5 Stars
"What might have been simply an entertaining, weird, fast-moving story also exhibits a peculiar religiosity. … Hinton’s ability to engage hasn’t faded, but the punitive subtext of Hawkes Harbor makes her novel even creepier." Suzy Hansen

Oregonian 3 of 5 Stars
"Hinton is enough of a natural storyteller that even when she seems to be making it up as she goes along the reader may forgive a great deal." Todd Grimson

St. Petersburg Times 2.5 of 5 Stars
"It’s a novel for grown-ups not only because it contains occasional four-letter words and Hinton’s first published sex scene, but also because the book is organized in a nonchronological way, going back and forth in time, which demands extra attention from the reader. … By the end, the early adventure part of the book seemed so distant from middle and later portions that Hawkes Harbor felt like three novelettes joined roughly together." Curtis Krueger

Critical Summary

Remember what made The Outsiders, Tex, and Rumble Fish classics? Hinton’s first adult novel (appropriate for teens, too) contains some of those same elements, but critics aren’t quite sure what to make of it. Hinton knows how to tell a story, and this one’s entertaining, ghoulish, and full of fantastical adventures. But the non-chronological time frame and confusing narration left some reviewers bewildered. A few unexplained elements, from Jamie’s fading voice and changes in Hawkes’s personality, also left them hanging. But, if you’re curious to know what Hinton’s been up to the past 25 years and don’t expect a classic, Hawkes Harbor is worth a go.