Tuesday, January 10

Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer

Mary Faber is an orphan, struggling to survive on the streets of London. When the HMS Dolphin docks, she disguises herself and is taken on as a ship's boy named "Jack."

With no wars to fight, the men do what they must - seek out pirates. Mary "Jacky" Faber has never considered herself to be very brave but she must do what she can in the face of bullies, pirates and worse.

Could Jacky be on her way to riches and respect? Or will she be found out and set off at the nearest port? Worse, the noose may wait for her...

I learned about this novel when I was participating in Script Frenzy. A girl in my region (New Zealand) was adapting it into a screenplay and said it was a favourite of hers. I wrote down the name and was determined to read it. It was never available at the library when I wanted it and so I didn't get around to it.

Before I left NZ, I bought my own paperback copy. Despite that, when I discovered 'Bloody Jack' on audio book and sampled it, I was soon to snatch it up. It is narrated by Katherine Kellgren but I didn't get around to listening to it until soon after I had bought and listened to another audio book narrated by her, 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.'

This is my first novel experience you might say - since I didn't really "read" the book - of the year. It was an excellent start.

I think that Jacky is a strong and worthy protagonist. Not because she is super brave or perfect. She isn't. It is because from the moment the story starts - and it is written in first person - she is such a powerful presence. Not in a boisterous sense but in that she struck me as a character I could empathise with and want to carry on through a novel with and perhaps even further.

Jacky has such a grabbing narrative voice. She talks all unrefined like and what have you, I guess you could say. She isn't a pathetic creature but she has this quiver of sensitivity and strength within her. I like how human she is. She's not defined by being a girl or her guise as a boy. She just is what she is and she always surprises in the best of ways. There is a great humour and sadness to her.

I think that if the novel did not have such a main character as Jacky to anchor it, along with the magnificent skills of L.A. Meyer, it would have fallen flat. It just goes to show that in the hands of a good writer and a worthy protagonist, a premise can stir to life and affect a reader where it otherwise might fall flat.

While I think I would have enjoyed the novel even if I had read it from the page, I have to give some credit to my liking for it to Katherine Kellgren. I was most impressed by how she handled the more tense and panicking moments and how she gave melody to songs that would have been tuneless words on a page to me otherwise.

'Bloody Jack' is a wondrous novel and I suggest the audio book to any of those who are inclined to listen to such things. I think I shall soon be listening to the next novel in the series, 'Curse of the Blue Tattoo.'*


*Although I think I may wait a wee while before I do, seeing as 'Bloody Jack' had me so entranced that I was staying up listening it into the maniacal hours of the morn...

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is used solely as an aide to the review.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

EXCELLENT.

As a Bloody Jack fangirl, I take immense pleasure when other people like this series. Definitely pick up the next one.