The Accidental Pirates: Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers
|The Accidental Pirates: Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: A series of definitely unfortunate incidents lead Brine and Peter on a wild, scary and satisfyingly hilarious adventure with a bunch of pirates and a . . . librarian?|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: June 2016|
|Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Brine leads a typical Cinderella existence, being a lonely orphan who spends her dreary life cleaning and tidying up after a tetchy wizard and his equally bad-tempered apprentice Peter. But then, in the way of all excellent stories, things go seriously wrong and the two young people have to flee their island. It's a total, horrible disaster: they get lost at sea together and only stop arguing about whose fault it was when they're picked up by a crew of bloodthirsty and ruthless pirates on a ship called the Onion (due to an unfortunate spelling mistake at the sign-maker's).
Pretty well every set piece about pirates is here: scars and tattoos, long voyages in the quest for gold, fierce loyalty to the Captain, a tendency to fight everyone and everything – in fact, the only thing missing is a parrot, but if there had been one Trudi Storme, the ship's cook, would have turned it into a fricassee or a hotpot or something long before our story began. But despite the set-up these sea-farers aren't just violent thugs who'll grab the nearest cutlass and give you a second tummy-button as soon as look at you (though it has to be said, they do enjoy the occasional all-out, take-on-ten-at-a-time skirmish): they have depth and a touch of heart too, and once they've got over wanting to chop you into sausage-sized pieces they're really quite friendly and good-humoured. Unless, of course, there's a profit to be had in tossing you over the side or selling you, but at least they're honest about it.
They have wonderful names, too (Cassie O'Pia, anyone?), and this sly, see-what-I-did-there humour permeates the book. Our swash-buckling crew frequently make pirate jokes at their own expense, and there's even the occasional reference to contemporary culture – watch out for a dig at a famous Star Wars plot line, for example. One of the main characters finds a most unusual use for fish (and it's not the cook: all her meals are most unusual) and there's a librarian from the all-female island of Barnard's Reach with a fairly odd secret or two. And then there's the bad guy. Or is he actually evil? Could it be that he's actually a generous and kindly soul acting for the good of everyone? Remember the old cliché: history is written by the winners and one person's rebel is another person's freedom fighter.
So – a rollicking adventure with a nice balance of danger, excitement and humour, and a couple of young characters who go through just the right amount of squabbling, confusion, jealousy, and uncertainty about the scary new circumstances they've got themselves into. The good news is that it's the first in a series so we'll meet Brine, Peter and the crew of the Onion again. One word of warning to animal lovers, though: once you read this book, you will never see penguins in the same way again. Cute is the last word that comes to mind when you encounter these particular beasties!
If you'd like more books about young people who don't start out as heroes (and who have no desire to be the teeniest bit heroic) but who fight monsters and baddies anyway, try Darkmouth by Shane Hegarty and the sequels Worlds Explode and Chaos Descends. Tons of action, generous and regular dollops of deadly peril, and a touch of zaniness to tie the whole lot together.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Accidental Pirates: Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Accidental Pirates: Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers at Amazon.com.
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