The Island Queen

by R. M. Ballantyne
314 pages, General Fiction
Reviewed by Nienna

Fun with great morals and discussion topics.


While sailing from their mother in England to their father in Java, twenty-year-old Dominick Riganda and his younger siblings Pauline and Otto are stranded on a small island. Out of necessity, they learn how to survive, and even thrive for a season, enjoying the novel experience. When another ship with over three hundred passengers is cast on their shores, the Rigandas enter into the struggle of forming and governing a colony.


Excellent. A character considers cannibalism the only option for survival, but removes himself from temptation in horror. The siblings pick on each other good-naturedly. Helping other people, honoring others, facing situations with courage, submission to authority, choosing mercy, protecting the defenseless, being gentle and wise - all of these are modeled and held up as virtues.

Spiritual Content

The Rigandas are Christians. They gain a new appreciation of God through their shipwreck and so they pray and read the Bible each day. Some of the other characters are Christians as well, and the Rigandas start a Sunday School and church. The Bible is quoted. Little story time is given to these things, however.

The characters discuss how God uses all things, even sin, for good, so we have hope in everything that happens. It is mentioned that only God can truly change a man's heart.


All of the Rigandas' shipmates die, three of the deaths being particularly mentioned though not described. Two minor characters die - one from an accident and the other from illness. Two characters box. The castaways face a slight danger from savages.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Some of the castaways get drunk once. One of them, having taken a pledge not to drink alcohol, reacts to his own drunkenness by smashing all of the barrels, thus ending any further drinking.

Sexual Content

A man falls in love with a young woman within hours of meeting her. While the fact that he fell in love is rather humorously described, it is not otherwise mentioned again. He conceals his feelings and behaves like a gentleman throughout the book.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

To save his siblings' lives, Dom considers having them eat one of their dead shipmates.


A fun read, The Island Queen jumps right into the story, spending almost no time on background information. It touches many issues, such as wilderness survival and the necessity of government, without focusing on any of them. While Dom may be classed with several other Ballantyne characters (strong, skilled, and a good leader), Otto's fun personality is unique, and Pauline stands out as a rare female main character. Among many other things, I enjoyed the siblings' relationships with each other, and their friendships with the other characters.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 5
Written for Age: 13+

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