The Phantom Ship

Cover image for


Published: 1838
Language: English
Wordcount: 140,974 / 399 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 86.2
LoC Category: PR
Downloads: 2,306
Added to site: 2005.06.15 10473

Marryat's personal experience enabled him, with little research, to produce a life-like picture of old Dutch seamanship, and his powers in racy narrative have transformed the Vanderdecken legend into a stirring tale of terror.

Show Excerpt

to the bedside of his mother, whom he found much better; and the neighbours, having their own affairs to attend to, left them alone. Exhausted with the loss of blood, the poor woman slumbered for many hours, during which she never let go the hand of Philip, who watched her breathing in mournful meditation.

It was about one o'clock in the morning when the widow awoke. She had in a great degree recovered her voice, and thus she addressed her son:--

"My dear, my impetuous boy, and have I detained you here a prisoner so long?"

"My own inclination detained me, mother. I leave you not to others until you are up and well again."

"That, Philip, I shall never be. I feel that death claims me; and, O, my son, were it not for you, how should I quit this world rejoicing! I have long been dying, Philip,--and long, long have I prayed for death."

"And why so, mother?" replied Philip, bluntly; "I've done my best."

"You have, my child, you have: and may God bless you for it. Often have


Average Rating of 3.3 from 3 reviews: ****
Henry L. Ratliff

(1838) Horror (Gothic) / Supernatural (Ghost ship) / Adventure (Quest) / Romance (Tragic) / Nautical (Sailing ships)

First serialized in 'The New Monthly Magazine' March 1837 - August 1839.

R: * * * * *
Plot bullets

  • Philip Vanderdecken of the Netherlands, has a great task ahead of him. He has sworn an oath on behalf of his dead father, to return to him a sacred relic..

  • His father is the unfortunate captain of the 'Flying Dutchman' A ghost ship that is doomed to sail the oceans, never touching land, until the relic is returned and the father is forgiven for curses to heaven and the death of a crewman, Schriften, who's apparition tries to foil Philip's quest.

  • Philip falls in love with and marries Amine, but leaves her at home for several voyages while he tries to fulfill his oath. The phantom ship is sighted on several of his voyages which end in tragedy, and death for all but him.

  • He finally takes his wife on what he hopes is his last voyage. The ghost ship is again sited and tragedy befalls them . Philip and Amine are rescued separately.

  • Philip has repeated difficulties as he tries to find his way to his wife. Amine is put on trial by the Spanish Inquisition, for mystic procedures she conducted to discover Philip's fate..

  • Tragedy has plagued Phillip's life, and all those he has sailed with, befriended or loved have suffered the same fate. Will he ever be able to fulfill his quest and put to rest the endless wanderings of the Flying Dutchman, 'The Phantom Ship'?


If you like stories where things turn out well in the end, if you need a little lift in your life, give this one a pass.

I found it a rather depressing, meaningless quest which turned out poorly for everyone involved. The description of the Inquisition near the end was the best part of this depressing concoction.

yelich croatia

I found this novel dynamic, with especially vividly described events. It has a great ( I believe Christan ) messaga in the end. It's easy to read, and puts your imagination in action. ENJOY

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