Review Blog

Aug 16 2011

Pirate X by Sherryl Clark

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UQP, 2011. ISBN 978 0 7022 3889 5.
(Ages 10+) Highly recommended. Adventure. Jumping onto the foredeck of a sailing ship Blackbeard appears, cutlass and guns ready, black hair wildly alive with red ribbons, and in his flowing majestic black bear, live fuses are fizzing. Will is astounded. Only a few days before he was on the run from a shop owner in London, from whom he had stolen some rolls, and when he fell, hitting his head, he woke up three centuries before, and taken on board a pirate ship. Here he learns to keep his head down and his thoughts private. He is befriended by Major Steele Bonnet, the captain of the ship, but something is obviously wrong. Blackbeard runs the ship, Revenge, while the Major often remains in his cabin, alternately being a man of iron, and then a drunk.
Life on board a ship in 1717 is harsh and cruel, with the crew working long hours to keep the vessel afloat and seaworthy, given rotten meat and weevily food to survive on. Will craves for broccoli and butter, and when the ship stops at a Caribbean island, he gorges on fresh pineapple. Not only must Will learn to use the cutlass and pistol, the ropes of the ship,but he must also watch his back as he has earnt the enmity of one of the ship's bullies who has vowed to kill him.
Pirate life is brutal and bloody and we sees the full scope of what life must have been like aboard these ships. Clark's research is monumental, the setting so realistic its impossible to separate fact from fiction. The background to the story, meticulously researched is mind boggling as we descend into the bowels of the ship, haul water or or gunpowder, throw bodies and badly wounded over board, or bombard Charle Town. Clark was entranced with the story of Major Steele bonnet, and in researching him, a failure as a pirate, wrote this book. It is sure to capture a wide and appreciative audience, adding reality to the fantasy of the Pirates of the Caribbean series of films.
Fran Knight

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