Moonfleet

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Moonfleet

Moonfleet

The Dorset village of Moonfleet, with its steep pebble beach, is well known to smugglers. They land cargoes there at night to keep clear of the Revenue, although it is a dangerous task – many a ship has been wrecked there and many souls lost. Apart from the smuggling trade, there are few prospects in the village. The great Mohune family, after whom the village was named, declined and vanished long ago, leaving nothing behind but tombs and legends. Young John Trenchard has grown up hearing stories of Blackbeard Mohune, who is said to haunt the church seeking a fabulous diamond he stole from King Charles I. One afternoon, John finds a secret passage underneath the village church. The pitch-black tunnel leads him to the crypt of the Mohunes where he finds neither jewels nor ghosts, but contraband goods and a mysterious piece of paper folded into a dead man’s locket. Both will prove dangerous and take John away from his home, and from the magistrate’s beautiful daughter whom he has dared to love. Moonfleet transports the reader to a world of mystery, adventure and romance, of smugglers’ paths zigzagging up and down sheer cliffs, of the Channel salt-breeze singing in the trees, the sturdy walls of the ruined castle on the Isle of Wight and, most significantly, Chesil Beach and ‘the awful roar of the undertow sucking back the pebbles’. It has enthralled countless children and influenced many writers, including A. N. Wilson, Louis de Bernières and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo. In a new introduction, he writes: ‘[Falkner] achieves that rare thing, a rollicking adventure that is also a wonderfully crafted book, beautifully written. Only Stevenson’s Treasure Island compares with it at all.’

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