The Unlikely Voyage of Jack De Crow

The Unlikely Voyage of Jack De Crow: A Mirror Odyssey from North Wales to the Black Sea

 – by A J MACKINNON

By the time I’d reached page 20 I was hooked on Jack de Crow. Mackinnon’s style is both charming and humorous. The very idea of setting sail in the river ‘at the bottom of the oval’ simply because he found a boat and becuase he could, is what we would all like to do but never actually get around to. Jack de Crow is the perfect antidote to the repetition and obligations of everyday life. When he reaches his target destination he decides to go to the next one, simply because it seems like a good idea – a good definition of real freedom.
His journey through the canals of England are fascinating, particularly as he learns how to handle his tiny sail boat in such a restricted space. One of the best passages, I found, was after London. He decides to cross the Channel – in a Mirror dinghy! Is he mad?
Once in Europe I found the narrative slowed and became occassionally repetitious; until he reaches Serbia. The ending I thought was a bit flat, but perhaps that was because I wanted Jack de Crow to keep sailing.
MacKinnon’s style reminds me of William Dalrymple’s travel books, engaging, informative, adventurous, yet sufficiently plausible that the reader can identify with the author, and enjoy the ride in comfort.