15 Apr 2018

Book Tour + Review - The Shipbuilder by Salina B. Baker

Title: The Shipbuilder

Author: Salina B. Baker

Publication Date: April 10th, 2018

Publisher: Culper Press


In the summer of 1869, beleaguered for-hire killer Zach Dimitru arrives in Eastport, Maine, bearing an amulet and searching for absolution. His salvation is dependent on the Benoit Family, who are also pitiless and tormented. Zach's deliverance is reliant on Juliette Benoit. The young woman is grieving the loss of her soul mate, whom she believes has reincarnated without her. Miraculously, the amulet imparts messages to Juliette. The fate of both Zach and Juliette, as well as the town, depends upon her ability to learn and convey those lessons before the arrival of a hurricane--one with the force to devastate Eastport.

My Thoughts:

The events in Salina B. Baker's The Shipbuilder play out on two levels: physical and spiritual. Of course I noticed in the synopsis that reincarnation as a belief would be present in the story but before going in I had no idea that spirituality would be a central motivator in the plot.

While on the one hand the spiritual side of the story was fascinating (since I next to never read books that involve reincarnation into their plot), on the other, sometimes beliefs in The Shipbuilder were a bit confusing, given that reincarnation got mixed with christianity. If I tell you that a bit of Obeah (a kind of sorcery that was widely practised in the Caribbean area at the time) was thrown in as well, you can imagine the complex inner routes that are travelled in this book.

Don't get me wrong, I don't say spiritualism ruins your understanding of what's going on but you have to know that at certain points I found myself asking loads of questions that only got answered at the end. Anyway, the characters fully compensated me for the mild difficulty of the challenge that this 'less tangible' side of the novel provided.

The members of the families whose past and present are intertwined in Eastport have to face themselves and each other to answer for past wrongs and present grudges. Ben Benoit is in love with the family's black maid, Seneca. He knows that at some point he has to let his mother know about their relationship but he is terrified of the reaction of the people around them. Adele, Ben's mother has lost the deep connection she'd had with her children before her husband died. She is having a secret affair with Daniel, the head of another family. Daniel's son Aaron is a womanizer and he also had a secret relationship in his past. We see some serious character developments in all these cases.

I liked the interracial  relationship and the true depiction of the difficulties Ben and Seneca had to go through to be together.

Zach arrives into this tight community with a mission. He has to save himself and some others on Moose Island from the storm. Whether the storm is symbolic or real I won't say, because you might like to find out for yourself.

Altogether I enjoyed The Shipbuilder because it had a lovely set of characters that ended up in tough situations and helped each other out of it. If you liked my review, don't hesitate, give it a try!


Shelby Rolle’s hands shook as he threw his fishing net into the blue water. His knuckles, stiff with arthritis, ached as he pulled the cast net toward the shore. The pain didn’t matter—he had to hurry. He could smell it coming, riding on the horizon as it rushed toward Cat Island. Soon cumulus clouds would appear, gray swirling monsters packing killer winds, which commanded palm trees to bend their fronded heads; winds that formed rain into blowing sheets of vertical glass and lifted waves into mountains of destruction until the storm surge finally swallowed the land.

Several small fish were trapped in Shelby’s net. He plucked them out one at a time and threw them toward a dune. The fish flopped around in the loose sand. He cast again and again all the while muttering an Obeah prayer, pleading with God to find his family worthy and to grant them safety. He tried to picture the local Obeah men huddled in their huts, chanting in an effort to tap the source of a higher supernatural power. In that power, they would find the ability to turn the storm away from the island. Shelby silently pleaded for them to achieve the spiritual plane and channel the necessary strength.

The smell of the ocean intensified as the clouds, now churning at the edge of the eastern horizon, stirred up the pungent odor of salt water and seaweed. He looked toward the sand dunes. The roof of a plantation house was visible on the other side. Its once grand stature had crumpled with age like the spine of a stooped old man. Fifty years of tropical environmental elements had eroded the dwelling. It was Shelby’s home.

The house had fallen into Shelby’s hands ten years earlier. It once belonged to an Englishman named John Monroe. At that time, John had been the master of the cotton plantation. Shelby had been a slave, a field hand born to third-generation Africans who had lived in the Kingdom of the Kongo until the Trans-Atlantic slave trade took them to the Caribbean. But there were things much worse than servitude. Shelby’s daughter suffered under the groping hands of John Monroe. She had pleaded with her father to deliver her from her living hell. He turned to those whom he believed had the capacity to help, but the Obeah curses and attempts at poisoning the plantation owner did nothing to stop the abuse.

Her salvation appeared imminent when the British abolished slavery in 1834. Despite the law and rebellious uprisings, John held fast to his Bahamian dream, refusing to free his slaves for two more years. Under pressure from the local authorities, he succumbed to the mandated emancipation. Without slaves to toil in the fields and seed the cotton, the plantation dissolved. John Monroe, with his wife and children, took their belongings and moved to Nassau. Among John’s personal belongings was Shelby’s daughter.

The cast net sailed into the water. The sea undulated as the rising wind heaved rolling white caps toward the shore. Shelby’s son came down to the beach. The young man’s white cotton shirt billowed like a sail in the wind. He gathered the fish from the dunes and tossed them into a basket.

The young man waved his hands at Shelby. “We have enough fish to ride out the storm!” the young man yelled. “Come on now, Father. Let’s go. Mother is waiting.”

Shelby gathered his net in his arms and ran to his waiting son. The entire island was wrapped in swirling gray clouds. The wind pushed at their backs as they made their way to the plantation house. Rain spurted from the sky. Shelby looked back toward the beach. What he saw stopped him in his tracks. The mast of a clipper ship appeared on the horizon. Its sails hung limply on their rigs as it glided on the tumultuous ocean.

“Can’t be,” Shelby said to himself. He cupped his hands above his eyes to block out the rain and wind. He squinted. There was no mistaking it. His daughter’s salvation floated before him as if the day was sunny and the winds were calm.


“One minute,” Shelby said to his son. Rain soaked his hair and clothing as he stared at the clipper ship. In his heart of hearts, he knew that she had finally been emancipated. He sensed something else. A strong aura of kindness enveloped him. It radiated across the hurricane crazed waters and reached out to him from every timber of the ship.

The ghost-like clipper moved further down the horizon. Soon it would be out of his range of sight. He raised his hand to his throat. His fingers searched for the chain that no longer hung around his neck. Ten years had passed since the amulet lay on his chest, the cool silver a reminder of its power. He had given it to his daughter for protection the day she was taken from her family.

“Father, come on!” His son’s words, scattered in the wind, were barely audible.

Shelby turned his back on the clipper ship and climbed the sand dune. He and his son walked the short distance to their home.

Three hours later, at the height of the hurricane, the plantation house roof collapsed, killing Shelby and his family. The Obeah men had failed to harness the power they sought or perhaps, they had unknowingly redirected it.

Review from Fantasy Author: 

The Shipbuilder is moody and somewhat grim. It has a strong undercurrent of fate and magic at its core, strongly reminding this reader of the work of Daphne du Maurier and Emily Brontë. With her passion for history and the accurate portrayal of the period, author Salina B Baker brings this time and place to harsh, vivid life. In doing so, she’s crafted a resonant and compellingly readable novel. 

Susan Rooke, author of The Space Between


About the Author:

Salina is an avid student of Colonial America and the American Revolution. Her lifelong passion for history and all things supernatural led her to write historical fantasy. Reading, extensive traveling and graveyard prowling with her husband keep that passion alive. She has three forthcoming novels in the works for 2017. Salina lives in Austin, Texas and is a member of The Writers’ League of Texas.

Contact Information:

Website: https://www.salinabbaker.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalinaBakerAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SalinaBBaker

Blog: https://salinabakerauthor.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16506911.Salina_B_Baker

Book Tour organized by:
RABT Book Tours & PR

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