John, Susan, Titty and Roger return to the lake for another summer camping on their island with their old allies, Nancy and Peggy, otherwise known as the Amazon pirates. But immediately disaster strikes when the Swallows find themselves marooned ashore by the shipwreck of their boat. But if they can't have the island, there's always Swallowdale, the secret valley, hidden from the world and containing an extra secret concealed within it...
Reviewed on 3rd May 2011
The follow-up to Ransome's most famous work sees the return of the Walker family to the lake district, where they plan to continue their adventures from the year before. Unfortunately the presence of the Amazon's great-aunt and the accidental shipwreck of the Swallows throws the children's summer into disarray.
I'm actually quite impressed by how good a sequel this is, managing to retain the same sense of fun and freedom as in Swallows and Amazons while presenting a group of characters who have developed over the intervening year, and all new adventures that don't feel in the least like a rehashing of the original.
I can see an element of confusion may be caused by the continued references by Titty to the events of the following book, Peter Duck, which in the story occurs prior to Swallowdale, but in general it is presented well enough that a child should be able to follow.
I've enjoyed re-reading this and can see how such a timeless adventure story can survive so well into the 21st century. The characterisations are very strong, and with the focus shifting slightly towards the younger characters it maintains the flow of time in the story while keeping it aimed at the right age of reader.