The Apprenticeship of Nigel Blackthorn
by Frank Kelso
Review by Barry Boy
I was given a copy of The Apprenticeship of Nigel Blackthorn by the author in exchange for an honest review.
The Apprenticeship of Nigel Blackthorn by Frank Kelso is the coming-of-age, fictional biography of a young teenage Welsh boy whose missionary parents have taken him to America on a trip to convert the ‘heathen Redmen’ (the author’s terminology spoken by at least one of the main characters in the book).
While crossing the Great Plains to their destination, they are attacked by Comanche. His parents are killed, his sisters kidnapped, probably, and he escapes by hiding. A little while later, he is found and ‘adopted’ by two kindly, but tough muleteers and taken with them on their trading runs. However, they cannot afford to feed him unless he works, and so begins his apprenticeship not only in that line of work, but also in life.
The story, written in the third person, is moving and detailed, and we share the innocent Nigel’s, sometimes tough, experiences. After a while, Pascal, one of the Frenchmen, decides to leave him with friends, so that his education can develop in a different direction. However, his friends are Cheyenne, and the young Nigel feels betrayed, since he still blames all ‘Redmen’ for the attack on his family.
Through further trials and tribulations, Nigel learns to discriminate between friends and true enemies and is not only adopted by his new family, but classes them as his new family too.
The Apprenticeship of Nigel Blackthorn is my kind of book. It is educational, while telling a compelling story. The title is appropriate and so is the cover.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Apprenticeship of Nigel Blackthorn by Frank Kelso, give it full marks, and commend it to you without any compunction. I note that there is a sequel, and look forward to reading it.
Read our interview with Frank Kelso here