When I first picked up this book I didn't know what to expect. The last pirate fiction I read was Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, in my formative years, and my conceptions, or misconceptions, of pirates were based on this and the depictions of Long John Silver by Robert Newton laced with a bit of Errol Flynn. The recent spate of Hollywood pirate films has done nothing to dispel this.
The hero of Sea Witch, Jesamiah Acorne, is a man who happens to be a pirate, rather than the pirate being all there is to the character, and hence he is much more rounded and believable. The book spends time, through his memories, introducing us to his troubled childhood which made him the person he is, and hence the reader gets to feel they know him and empathise with him.
As with the movies the pirate is balanced by a strong female lead, Tiola, the witch the ship is named after and at first you wonder how witchcraft will be woven into the narrative and if what is becoming a good historical nautical novel will turn into a fantasy. You can cast aside thoughts of pointy hats, broomsticks or dancing round fires chanting, as once again Helen Hollick gives us a very well rounded and believable character.
The plot of the novel, laced with the lives of pirates at sea and shore side plotting, sets out how these two disparate characters eventually come to be together and I'm sure its blend of historic fiction laced with real figures from the period and a thread of fantasy will appeal to readers of several nautical and romance genres. Now I'm familiar with Jesamiah and Tiola, I look forward to seeing how they develop as the series progresses.
A thoroughly good read which I recommend.
Description of: Sea Witch
Author: Helen Hollick