Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Pirate Apprentices and Young Adults
Hilary Westfield has all the skills – sailing, rowing, treading water for 37 minutes, tying knots, and reading maps – needed to become a pirate. Being a buccaneer and attending the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates’ training academy is all she’s ever dreamed about. There’s just one problem. They do not accept GIRLS! When the VNHLP discover she’s one of those, they forward an application on her behalf to Miss Pimm’s Finishing School for Delicate Ladies, a far more acceptable place for a girl.
Going to school is nowhere near as adventurous as pirating, and Hilary does her best to get out of attending. Her pleas fall on deaf ears. But she’s a plucky youngster and has no intention of heeding her parents’ wishes. She stows her sword, pirate clothes, and gargoyle (her best friend and confidante) in her traveling bag – along with the school’s dancing sheep cardigans, bathing cap, and silver crochet hook – and boards the train with her governess. At the first opportunity, she plans to escape, make her way to the coast, and join a pirate ship.
Just one unforeseen problem complicates those plans. Long ago, the Enchantress, who created the gargoyle to watch over the man she loved (Hilary’s ancestor), gathered up almost all the magic in Augusta and hid it. Only High Society folk managed to squirrel away small magical objects, which they tend to flaunt in a way that shows they’re better than other people. Thieves, however, have been systematically stealing these bits of magic, and Admiral Westfield, Hilary’s father, is tasked to find and punish them. As far as he’s concerned the thieves must be pirates, and he’s bound and determined to destroy every last one of them.
That includes Hilary, now that she’s a member of the Terror of the Southlands’ crew of pirates. But she soon discovers the pirates aren’t responsible for the magic thefts. Someone close to her, with far more sinister plans than either she or her new mates ever expect, has stolen the magic. If this person finds the Enchantress’ hidden treasure trove, Augusta and her people will never be the same. Only Hilary and her fellow buccaneers aboard the Pigeon can stop the thief.
Magic Marks the Spot* is the first book in the VNHLP series, and it’s an amazing, hilarious, and madcap adventure that hooks the reader from the first sentence – Ever since the letter had arrived from Miss Pimm’s, Hilary had spent more and more time talking to the gargoyle – until the last. Although written for young pirate apprentices (ages 8 to 12), even adults will enjoy this magical fantasy that mixes all the imagery associated with pirates with more surprising twists and turns than a serpentine roller coaster. Hilary’s willingness to take chances, to pursue her dreams, and to face harsh truths is inspiring and thrilling.
*Interspersed throughout the book are graphics that supplement the story. The maps, pirate handbook pages, and newspaper stories can be read on a large computer screen or e-book device with little trouble. Those of the letters sent between characters are more challenging to decipher. They are written in small script and the ability to enlarge them is limited. Since I read this galley on a NOOK, I don’t know if the same problem occurs in the printed book.
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