Black Waters (Strong Winds) by Julia Jones and Claudia Myatt

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Black Waters (Strong Winds) by Julia Jones and Claudia Myatt

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Part of the Strong Winds series Black Waters reads well as a standalone and is a superb mystery as complex as any adult book and very satisfying. Highly recommended
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 296 Date: July 2015
Publisher: Golden Duck
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1899262267

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Xanthe Ribiero had won the area championships in her sister's boat, but she now had sponsorship and a new laser dinghy. Best of all she had the letter from the GB Racing Committee which confirmed that she was in the squad and was off to the Easter training camp at the National Sailing Academy at Weymouth. She was full of plans to train harder, watch her diet and - she had to admit - just a little bit pleased that she might not have to worry about exam results and university applications. This was as good as it got.

It was also as good as it was going to be for quite a long time because nothing went well for Xanthe at the training camp and it was mostly down to Madrigal Shryke, the pampered daughter of wealth who worked hard at undermining Xanthe. She had a vast stock of racist comments of the type which take your breath away because you can't quite believe that she said that. It's a lot to ask that someone of just sixteen will be able to keep their cool in those circumstances and Xanthe snapped. Madrigal found herself on the end of a punch. It was nothing physically serious - just on the shoulder - but Madrigal made the most of it and Xanthe left the camp in disgrace with a six-month ban from racing. Then the social media campaign against Xanthe started.

You might think that I've told you rather a lot about the plot, but I haven't..This is only the start of the story - the background, if you like - because Xanthe decides to take a job teaching sailing to a group of kids who are living on a lightship in Essex. It gets her out of the way and she can concentrate on what's happening rather than what's happened. And it's not long before she realises that there's something very nasty going on. Local families have been feuding for generations and it looks as though it's all going to come to a head.

Aimed at the teen market, this is a superb story. We've met Xanthe Ribiero before in Strong Winds Trilogy. Brought up in a loving and supportive family the fact that she's black has never been a problem before, but now she's having to face open racism from Madrigal and the more casual, ingrained variety from the likes of her landlord who accused his wife of bringing a darkie into his house. It takes a lot of character to learn the lesson of what happened at Weymouth and rise above what's being said, but Xanthe manages it.

The Strong Winds series reminds me of the traditional adventure books which I read in my early teens. They're not about sexual or pre-sexual relationships, but they are great mystery stories with a strong background of sailing and the sea. It's a complex story too - you'll need to keep your wits about you to follow what's going on. There are no spurious concessions because the book is for teens: the plot is as complex and satisfying as the vast majority of adult books and a lot better than a great many. I'm several times the target age, but Dark Waters fulfils the test of a good book: whatever age you are it's still a good book and this one had me hooked from the first page to the last.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

The book reads well as a stand alone, but why not start at the beginning of the series with The Salt-Stained Book?

Julia Jones' Strong Winds Series in chronological order

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