Kate Inglis has destroyed my street credibility in the rough and tumble Dartmouth neighborhood where I live. Three times in the last fortnight, while waiting for the bus to whisk me away to my writing residency at the University of King’s College’s MFA in creative nonfiction program, Flight of the Griffons made me cry.
That’s not just the sign of a very good book. It’s the sign of blessedness.
Flight of the Griffons is, by every measure, a rip-roaring and rowdy juvenile adventure and a very tall tale that will delight readers of every age even as it tackles the most serious issue of our day: the destruction of Planet Earth by capitalism gone awry. At the same time, Griffons portrays the unconscionable plight of Canada’s First Nations with both grace and delicacy, and I will be eternally grateful for the author’s decision to write this modern parable.
Flight of the Griffons is Inglis’s sequel to the bestselling The Dread Crew, and it exceeds the original in every way. That’s no small thing. While we enjoy spending some time with the old Dreads, a motley crew of land pirates who know how to have a good time, we’re quickly immersed in the latest adventures of Missy Bullseye who was, for me anyway, the most intriguing character in the first book.
What can I say? I love Missy. I mean, I really love her. She has the heart of a swashbuckler and the soul of a poet. She’s profoundly deaf, but skilled at reading lips — and emotions. In the best traditions of juvenile fiction, she is afraid of nothing, repeatedly proving that she is resourceful, quick, and inventive. I was beguiled. Girls, and more than a few boys, will want to be just like her.
Missy’s adventure with the Griffons begins when the head of the pirate union co-opts her into spying on a blacklisted crew that has fallen off the radar. Nobody is sure what the Griffons are doing, though rumours abound. With pluck and ingenuity, Missy finds her way aboard, and starts spying for the Chief.
But the Griffons are not anything like she expects, and Missy quickly learns that these renegade pirates, under Captain Rasmus Krook now serve Mother Earth. Travelling around Western Canada in a jury-rigged Hercules transport plane, they wreak havoc on the suits who wish to crisscross Canada’s pristine hinterlands with oil and gas pipelines.
I won’t give more away. But I will say that, in the tradition of authors like Roald Dahl, Flight of the Griffons is a wonderfully seditious read. Kids will love it.
Better still, Inglis writes beautifully, and her second offering is both lovely and lyrical. I love Inglis’s sense of humor. Throw in a handful of whimsical, old-school illustrations by NSCAD-trained Sydney Smith, and you have the makings of a fabulous book.
I just hope this isn’t the last time we see Missy Bullseye. She does terrific work with the Griffons, but she needs a ship to call her own.