Verdict: 4/5 stars
That was a lot of fun! It’s true that the narration skews towards the young in young adult (some passages really do read like middle grade) and the romantic subplot is pretty instalove-y, but, gosh darn it, this was just such an entertaining, fast-paced, swashbuckling adventure that I’m willing to mostly look past all that.
The book starts with Alosa, the titular daughter of the pirate king, getting captured by the captain of another ship – on purpose. She’s been sent by her father to steal a map that is supposed to lead to the legendary Isla de Canta, a task that would be a lot easier if the ship’s first mate, Riden, was just willing to underestimate her like everyone else. There’s a strong Pirates of the Caribbean vibe with this one, complete with mentions of a pirate king and pirate lords, along with lots of popcorny action to keep the plot moving.
The writing was a mixed bag for me. When she doesn’t sound a little juvenile, Alosa’s narration is full of humour and personality.
Draxen snorts, rests his hands on his belt, and turns back toward the Night Farer . His first mate, however, never takes his eyes off me, as though he anticipates a violent reaction.
Well, of course I’m going to react violently, but why should he expect it already?
For younger readers, though, the occasional simplicity of the narration may be a good thing, so if you’re stocking books for a middle grade classroom, keep that in mind.
The story is pretty romance-heavy, and Alosa and Riden’s relationship develops at the unnatural speed common in young adult books, which is a real shame because they had such delicious banter! I was fully on board from about page fifteen, it’s just… not as satisfying if you don’t really need to wait for your ship to sail. (Yes, I’m making that pun.)
This book is like a good summer blockbuster. It’s quick, it’s got a fun story, you don’t really need to think that much before, after, or during it, and it’s never going to win any awards, but you’ll happily waste a bit of your time on it and not have any (many) regrets afterwards.