Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Creepy Classic: Treasure Island

This month’s Creepy Classic is Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.  Like most lovers of classic literature, I've read another one of Stevenson’s tale’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. – which is an insanely good read (see my review here.)  Treasure Island was equally as dark and far more suspenseful in a delicious sort of way.  Seriously, this book is one of the finest in classic children's literature, and it’s a shame that more people aren't taking advantage of it's authentic craftsmanship.  But I guess that’s what’s reviews like this are for.
Nevertheless, Treasure Island grips you immediately from the point when Billy Bones one of Captain Flints menacing pirates takes up residence at a village inn.  He siphons the establishments' livelihood by drinking and carousing endlessly to a “Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum.”  The story begins from the perspective of Jim Hawkins; the young boy destined to cross paths with Bones.  Reading the book through Jim’s eyes was the most refreshing and enticing classic book I've read in some time.  He captivated me from the start with his frightened yet curious nature.  After Billy Bones' demise, Jim embarks on an adventure of a lifetime, teaming up with a Captain Smollett, Doctor Livesey as well as a host of other lively characters including the crew of sailors - most of which were pirates.

Although on the surface the story is essentially about hunting for the blasted treasure, I found that was indeed so much more.  There was this undertone of treachery from the beginning and once the ship set sail, loyalties were tested and ultimately, deceit revealed.  There can’t be a pirate tale, unless there’s a mutiny, right?   And reading about the heinous finagling and murderous deeds was so chilling, I swear I’ll never get those pirate thugs out of my brain.  Brilliant.  The suspense and intrigue killed me at times for both the plot and the characters, especially Long John Silver.  I have to say my only complaint was the changing of the narrator.  I didn’t need it nor did I want it.  I understand why it was done, but it vexed me to no end.  Young Jim started out as a small flame and by the end of this tale he was blazing.  He was magnificent as was Silver.  

Since this was published, much of what the general public associates with pirates comes from this story.  I actually read a review recently where someone complained about how Treasure Island was riddled with clichés.  To me, there was an exorbitant amount of originality infused in this tale that I don’t understand how someone could classify it as such.  Between the X marks the spot, treasure maps, parrots, Skeleton Island and not to mention Silver’s relentlessly switching sides (remind you of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow, eh?), clichés were the last thing on my mind.  It was written in 1883 for the love of Peter!  Authentic would be more precise, but that’s me.  All in all, Stevenson’s Treasure Island’s was a 5; an original from the onset that continues to thrive as a timeless classic today.

Mina B.


Cherie Colyer said...

I'm due for a good classic. I'm glad I stopped by, because it's been ages since I read Treasure Island and there's nothing better than a creepy classic this time of year.

Thanks for sharing.

Stacy Henrie said...

I have to admit I've never read Treasure Island. But we found some chapter book versions at the library that my oldest son read and liked.

Right now I'm reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein - creepy classic for sure. :)

Mina Burrows said...

@Cherie - Hi! Creepy classics are the best. Treasure Island is a great place to start. Or you can check out my CC section to see if another classic interests you. :)

@Stacy - Ooooh, I love Frankenstein. That's a great one too. And it happens to be one of my my popular posts! :o)

carla said...

I must admit that I also have not read Treasure Island. So I went to the online library and somebody had it checked out(audio version). I believe I used to have like a comic book version when I was a kid. Maybe. I never thought of it as a creepy classic.