The Phantom Ship is Marryat’s re-telling of the Flying Dutchman legend and, while it was slow to get going, the payoff was really worth it.
The Phantom Ship, tells the story of Phillip Vanderdecken’s quest to free the soul of his father who has been damned to sail the seas for all eternity as captain of The Flying Dutchman. Being a gothic novel, the book lacks Marryat’s characteristic sense of humor and, while the scenes set at sea are as gripping as everything else I’ve read by Marryat, there is a subplot involving Phillip’s Muslim wife and her struggles with Catholicism that took a while to pick up speed. This subplot really went in an interesting direction, however, and the novel’s exploration of themes relating to religion, faith and morality is thought provoking and non-didactic.
While the first half of this novel was easily my least favorite thing I’ve read by Marryat, the second half is right up there with his better works. As a bonus, there is a fun, grisly werewolf story slipped in towards the end as well