Welcome to Carol Birch's powerful novel about a young man who gets lost in the sea while following the promises of a wonderful adventure, big rewards and the thrill of becoming a great sailor. The book's main character's name is Jaffy, and the story unfolds in the 19th century, back when ships were an essential part of society. Jaffy gets hired by Mr. Jamrach, a world-famous captain who imports exotic animals from pretty much every corner of the world.
Tim, a nice fella who's sometimes a bit too competitive, embarks on this journey with him, and that's now their friendship starts. The captain needed the boys to capture a fabled dragon that is believed to be seen somewhere in the middle of nowhere. To catch it, the crew will have to go on a 3-years-long expedition. While onboard the ship, the two young men come to enjoy the rough-tough way of life and the sailor code.
Plus, hunting a whale is a pretty exciting thing, so, they've always learning something new and growing up quicker than they could ever imagine. The crew even manages to capture the dragon. However, when the team fails to "harvest" enough whales, they begin to suspect that the dragon is bringing bad luck. And pretty soon, when a brutal storm sinks their ship, all those rumors turn out to be true.
So, the team is left stranded in the middle of the ocean, and Jaffy and Tim will have to do whatever it takes to survive and to claim their place in this new, dangerous world. Jamrach's Menagerie is super-atmospheric, brilliantly written and fast-paced. It's a truly brilliant novel about friendship, survival, and a great adventure.