Rip Van Winkle and the Pumpkin Lantern Summary
In Rip Van Winkle and the Pumpkin Lantern, debut novel from Seth Adam Smith, and an alternate retelling of the Rip Van Winkle story, we meet a young boy abandoned at birth who is chosen for a mysterious adventure that could decide the fate of colonial Boston. Chased by a vengeful witch, hunted by an undead corpse, and guided by a secretive preacher, a boy must protect a magical lantern that can either save Boston . . . or destroy it.
In October of 1730, young Rip Van Winkle sneaks into a graveyard and comes face-to-face with the ghost of William Blaxton, the first settler of Boston. Warning Rip that the city is in danger, Blaxton gives him a mysterious gift: a pumpkin lantern with power over life and death. Before fading into midnight, the ghost tells Rip to take the lantern to Feathertop, a mythical pumpkin-headed scarecrow.
Pursued by Mistress Hibbins, a witch of terrifying power, and hunted by the nightmarish Midnight Minister, young Rip must rely on the aid of Jonathan Edwards, a stern and secretive preacher, and Nathaniel, a talkative, know-it-all raven. Guided by the magical light of the lantern, Rip races across New England to find Feathertop, save Boston, and become a most unlikely hero!
From the bestselling, award-winning author Seth Adam Smith comes Rip Van Winkle and The Pumpkin Lantern–a fantasy novel influenced by the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Lloyd Alexander, and C. S. Lewis. Loaded with humor, action, suspense, and fascinating American history, The Pumpkin Lantern is also a poignant fable about faith, family, and the power of life over death.
Rip Van Winkle and the Pumpkin Lantern Review
Rip Van Winkle and the Pumpkin Lantern by Seth Adam Smith is a captivating piece of historical fantasy. While you probably recognize the name Rip Van Winkle from the tale by Washington Irving, the name would be the only similarity between the two tales.
In this story, Rip is rescued as a baby by his adoptive parents Abigail and Josiah Van Winkle. They go on to adopt a number of other “unwanted” or abandoned children over the years, many of whom were brought to the family by Rip. As Rip grows he discovers he has a magical gift, but doesn’t really understand it. Following the death of his sister Charity, Rip struggles with life and one night finds himself in the local graveyard. It is here he is given a magical pumpkin lantern by William Blaxton, which begins the real adventure of this story.
Not having really read the summary before beginning this book, I thought it started out as a sweet family tale. And it does. Then Rip gets the lantern and the book becomes a story of adventure and intrigue and personal discovery. It’s this journey of personal discovery that is the real heart of this story. But it is so interwoven into the tale that the message of this book doesn’t hit you over the head. Rip’s personal discovery unfolds naturally and with lots of ups and downs, three steps forward and one step back, just as it does for most of us in real life.
Though this book is slotted into the YA fiction genre, this book has enough adventure in it to hold the attention of readers of all ages. While it has adventure, intrigue and intense scenes, it would be an appropriate story as well for middle grade readers.
For families like mine who enjoyed reading together (my hubby read to our kids every night before bed just about into high school), this book is an ideal family reading selection.
About the Author
Seth Adam Smith is a best-selling, award-winning author and blogger . His writings have been translated into over thirty languages and featured on the Huffington Post, Good Morning America, Fox News, CNN, the Today show, Forbes, and many other news outlets around the world. In 2015, his book Your Life Isn’t for You was awarded a gold medal for inspirational memoir.
A survivor of a suicide attempt in 2006, Seth has become an advocate for resources and understanding concerning depression and suicide prevention. He regularly writes about these topics in his books and on his blog.
To learn more about Seth Adam Smith visit his website at sethadamsmith.com.
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