Nicole Castroman brings the dangerous pirate ports of the Caribbean to life in this vibrant sequel to Blackhearts—the reimagined origin story of history’s most infamous pirate, Blackbeard.
Edward “Teach” Drummond is setting sail to the Caribbean as first mate on the most celebrated merchant ship in the British fleet—until he rebels against his captain. Mutiny is a capital offense and Teach knows it could cost him his life, but he believes it worth the risk in order to save his crew from the attacking Spanish ships.
Sailing on the same blue waters, Anne barely avoids the Spanish attack, making it safely to Nassau. But lawless criminals, corrupt politics, and dangerous intentions fill the crowded streets of this Caribbean port. Soon, Anne discovers that the man entrusted to keep the peace is quite possibly the most treacherous of them all—and he just happens to hold Teach’s fate in his terrifying hands.
Life and death hang in the balance when Teach and Anne are given a dangerous mission. It’s a mission that will test their love, loyalty, and devotion, forcing them down a path neither one could have ever imagined.
About the Author
Nicole Castroman received her BA from Brigham Young University and has lived in Germany, Austria, and two different places called Georgia. One is the country near the Black Sea; the other is the state of Georgia where she currently lives with her husband and children. She is the author of Blackhearts and Blacksouls.
Read an Excerpt
Anne’s father had often told her that a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor, but this morning she was grateful for the tranquility as the Providence cut the surface like a finger trailing in the water. The blue sky overhead stretched to the horizon with lazy white clouds floating on the breeze.
She tried to convince herself that her calm surroundings made her present task somewhat less repellant, but the expressions of her fellow passengers told her otherwise, which was why the duty had fallen to her. No one else had stepped forward to help.
Kneeling on the deck, the skin on Anne’s arms and face was tight from prolonged exposure to the sun and seawater. The dull needle in her hand pierced the bloody canvas with a gentle pop as she pulled the edges of the hammock closer together to create a makeshift shroud.
She avoided looking at the dead man’s eyes as they stared sightlessly up at the heavens. Holding her breath against the rancid smell of his rotting teeth and gums, she said a silent prayer, hoping he had not felt the rats gnawing on the soles of his feet as he lay dying.
The sailor standing beside her shifted, momentarily blocking the sun. “That’s only twelve stitches. He’ll come back if you don’t have thirteen.”
“Perhaps you’d like to do the last one,” Anne snapped up at him, unable to hold her tongue any longer.
The sailor took a hasty step back, shaking his head, his eyes wide with fear. These men and their silly superstitions, she thought.
Bracing herself, Anne pushed the needle through one side of the canvas before passing it through the dead man’s nose. She winced as she tugged at the thread to complete the last and final stitch to close the hammock. The sailors claimed that the law of the sea demanded it, a way to make sure that the person wasn’t simply sleeping.
Anne knew for a fact that the man before her was dead, for she was the one who had found him. Hidden behind a large crate on the quarterdeck of the Providence, he had crawled away to suffer the scurvy alone and in silence. He’d had no family on board, no one to claim him.
Her task complete, Anne sat back on her haunches, waiting as a few sailors lifted the body. Gaunt and exhausted themselves, they rested it briefly on the railing before rolling it over the edge into the serene sea below.
Anne closed her eyes when she heard the splash, knowing the cannonball they’d placed in the hammock would drag the emaciated form down to the murky depths of the ocean. A small part of her couldn’t help thinking that perhaps he was the lucky one. His suffering was over. For the rest left on board, their hardships would continue.
In the five weeks since they’d left the shores of England behind, he was the sixth person to succumb to the disease, and unless they reached their destination soon, he would not be the last.
From the beginning, the vessel had been plagued by exceptionally bad luck.
A lack of foresight or funds had left them with an inadequate supply of provisions. Their salted pork and dried fish had long run out, with only hardtack remaining. The biscuits themselves were barely edible, teeming with beetles and weevils. After her mother’s death, Anne had thought she’d known hunger. That was nothing compared to the famine she endured now.
The weary people surrounding Anne wore threadbare clothes and haunted expressions, resembling the ship on which they sailed. It was a miracle the Providence had made it this far, with its tattered sails and slowly leaking hull.
While the other onlookers drifted to different parts of the deck, Cara helped Anne to her feet. “How do you do it?” Cara asked, her freckled face pale underneath her sunburn. Her once plump features had significantly thinned in the weeks since their departure.
Anne had told Cara and her brother, Coyle, how she’d been taken from the Drummond estate and put on the Providence against Richard Drummond’s instructions. In turn, Anne had learned that Coyle and Cara’s uncle had sent them enough funds to sail on a grand ship, but someone had robbed them, and the two were left to sail on the Providence as well. Anne was grateful for their friendship.
Looking up from the needle in her hand, Anne gave Cara a sad smile. “It’s not much different than mending the sails.” Cara had a fine hand for stitching and had been invaluable to the crew of the Providence for patching and repairing the old canvas sails ripped during the storms they’d encountered. Cara hoped to earn a living as a seamstress one day, and put her talent to use.
“I don’t believe you. Some of these lads have been sailing for years and none of them offered to help the poor man.”
“It was the least I could do. I like to think that if anything happened to me, someone would take the time to give me a proper burial at sea.”
Cara crossed herself before shaking her head at Anne. “Don’t be talking like that. Nothing’s going to happen to you. Coyle won’t allow it. And neither will I.”
“Aye, she’s right,” Coyle said, coming toward them. His blond hair, so similar to his sister’s, had lightened considerably in the sun, while his fair skin had darkened. He’d lost at least two stones since they’d set sail. “We’re glad you’re here, even if we were all supposed to be on the Deliverance.”
Cara linked her arm with Anne’s. “And when we get to Nassau, you can stay with us. I’m sure our uncle would welcome an extra hand in his tavern. From what we’ve heard, he seems to be doing well, with plenty of thirsty folk on the island.”
“It will only be until I can earn enough to continue my journey. I don’t wish to be a burden,” Anne said, hating the fact that she was once again penniless, with no way to send word back to Teach. Every time she thought of him, the pain of his absence was like a cruel fist squeezing her heart.
It would take weeks for any letter to reach Bristol, but she had to try something to get in touch with him. Perhaps he’d left word with her father’s solicitor. It was quite possible Teach had quit the country, in an attempt to find her.
If she closed her eyes, she could almost picture him aloft in the rigging of a ship, adjusting the sails and making repairs. The work of a sailor was physically demanding, yet Teach would never shrink from his responsibilities. He wouldn’t have hesitated to sew the dead man up in the hammock. Not because he was unfeeling, but because Teach knew there was enough filth and disease on a ship without a decaying body adding to the misery.
A part of Anne couldn’t help being grateful that she would soon reach land and have to stay there for some time. The trip across the Atlantic had been more challenging and difficult than anything she’d imagined. They’d endured unending hours of monotony, only to be surprised by storms so violent and fierce that Anne had been convinced the ship would send her to a watery grave.
Cara gave Anne a comforting squeeze. “You could never be a burden. If you hadn’t allowed me to share your cabin, I would still be forced to sleep with the passengers below and Coyle would never get any rest.”
“I still don’t get any rest. But at least I don’t worry as much,” Coyle said, striking the small biscuit in his hand on the railing. Several weevils fell out and he brushed the tiny black insects overboard, before dipping the hardtack into a mug of diluted brandy. “Care for some?” he asked, offering it to Anne.
She shook her head. They’d all learned the hard way that the simple wafers were unbreakable and had to first be immersed in liquid in order to make them edible. Hardtack might be inexpensive to make and long-lasting for a voyage, but flavorful it was not.
Coyle shrugged and took a bite. Cara wrinkled her nose at him. “Aren’t you going to offer me anything?” Cara asked.
“No. George ate your portion.”
“Which George?” Cara had taken it upon herself to try to name every rat on the Providence. An impossible task considering how many there were, but it was a simple game that helped fight the monotony of the voyage.
“How should I know?”
“Was he missing a hind foot? If so, it was George III. If part of his tail was gone, then that’s George I.”
“I’m too bloody tired for this, Cara,” Coyle muttered, rubbing his weary eyes.
Anne shook her head at him. “You don’t need to sleep outside our cabin, Coyle. You’ve heard Captain Oxley. He’s said no harm will come to us.” After weeks observing the coarse crew, Anne had come to realize that the sailors mostly kept to themselves, leaving the passengers alone. Cara’s outgoing nature bordered on flirtatious, but the men were too busy trying to keep the ship afloat to pay much attention to her. Especially with Coyle remaining nearby.
“I want to be close by in case anything does happen,” Coyle said, looking off the port side.
Anne followed his gaze, a thread of unease winding its way through her chest. In the distance, two ships cruised the open waters, their dark outlines visible against the stark blue of the sky. For weeks, the Providence had sailed along, separated from familiar landmarks without a glimpse of another vessel on the horizon.
But two days ago as they neared their destination, the call had gone out that a ship had been spotted. And shortly after, a second ship had appeared. Like two shadows, they followed the Providence, but made no move to get any closer.
Anne drew a deep breath. “Have they shown their flags?”
“No. We’re too far for them to raise an ensign,” Coyle said.
“What do you think they want?” Cara asked, her eyes narrowed. “We don’t have anything worth taking.” The Providence was a pitiable merchant vessel. With rotting timbers and old rigging, the ship transported more people than cargo. Whatever goods she did carry, it couldn’t have amounted to more than a few hundred schillings at best.
“I don’t know,” Coyle said, downing the rest of his brandy. “But it’s not normal.”
“It seems to me that they’re waiting for something,” Anne said.
“Like what?” Cara asked, her voice sharp.
Coyle wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Don’t know, but I think Anne’s right. See how they keep their distance?”
Cara looked between her brother and Anne. “But we’re only a few days away from Nassau. It’s to be expected that we see other ships.”
“Yes, but they should move on, shouldn’t they? If they’re merchants, they would be heading to their next port,” Anne said. “Do you think the tales are true?”
A few of the crew members had claimed that life was difficult for many settlers in Nassau. The Spanish had burned and destroyed the town in 1684. English settlers had arrived two years later and more continued to arrive each year, but stability was difficult to maintain, even with a governor in residence. In order to survive, many in the population had turned to piracy to earn their living. Nassau was rumored to be a lawless nest of adventurers and thieves.
“Surely they wouldn’t attack a ship flying under the English flag,” Cara said.
Anne remained silent, the Providence rising and falling gently beneath her feet. Was it possible that the life she’d left behind in Bristol was better than the one she now faced, living amongst thieves in Nassau?
The first part of their journey was nearly complete. In a few days’ time, they would make port. But what kind of future awaited her?
Looking up, Anne raised a hand to shield her eyes, squinting against the brightness of the sun. In the distance, the unmistakable outline of another vessel dotted the horizon.
A murmur spread across the deck like a wave approaching shore as other passengers and crew crowded along the railing. If they hadn’t been so spooked by the two ships already following them, Anne doubted the appearance of a third would have caused such a stir.
But cause a stir it did.
The downy hair on Anne’s nape prickled. Glancing back up at the cloudless blue sky, she saw that there was no sign of an approaching storm, but she sensed danger on the horizon nonetheless.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Blacksouls is a tense continuation of the story of Teach and Anne. We travel with them separately across the sea to Nassau where life is no easier than it was in England. I am glad that Teach and Anne weren't kept apart for too long. I love these two! But of course, the happiness doesn't last. I enjoyed the exploration of Anne's feelings towards prejudice in this book. Her journey is not an easy one and I thought it was well written. Teach is slowly but surely showing his Blackbeard in this one and I loved every minute. This one, much like the first, had solid writing and an interesting plot. If you like pirates and origin stories, this one is for you!
pooled ink Reviews: This book was so good! But then again I’m generally partial to pirate tales. So, some people complained an awful lot about BLACKHEARTS not being chock full of pirates and battle, but I didn’t mind at all. I mean, after all it’s a very mysterious question as to how an educated man named Edward Teach ended up becoming one of the most successful and feared pirates sailing under the name Blackbeard. So Blackhearts set up Teach’s background – where he came from, how he learned to sail, what kind of person he was, and why on earth he’d journey so very far from England into the lawless islands. I think that’s all very important and utterly fascinating. But yes, if you found that dull and disappointing then you will be very pleased with BLACKSOULS. It absolutely made me think of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. It’s full of humor, canon fire, mutiny, blood, ruthlessness, love, and non-stop intrigue. Truly it had me captivated and clinging on to its quick pace. Sailing at a breakneck speed towards a conclusion filled with cannons, pirates, love, and revenge, BLACKSOULS will leave your spine tingling and your eyes glinting with madness as you eagerly await to witness all Queen Anne’s Revenge has in store. Captivating plights, hackle-raising enemies, and exhilarating escapes, Castroman has hit it the target dead center with this pirate-inspired tale. Read my FULL review on my Wordpress site: Pooled Ink
After I finished reading Blackhearts last year, I didn't know that there wasn't a contracted sequel. In fact, I assumed that we would be getting our answers in the second part and was happily waiting for news of it. And then came a publication announcement, and I was pleasantly shocked and surprised because i KNEW I would need to read this book after that HORRIBLE HEART-WRENCHING ENDING to Blacksouls. I was also very excited to actually have pirates, ships and everything that comes along with the seas in this story because book one didn't have a lot of it. Or any, really. I was also really hoping the entire book wasn't a journey of Teach getting to Anne and it was all kings of mope-y, because that would have been sad So, now that I've told you what I EXPECTED from this book, I should tell you that It was BETTER than I expected it would be! Thoughts: 1) I LOVED ANNE IN THIS BOOK. She was spunky in book one, but I'd gotten use to the general prejudice of mean girls, and so Blackhearts made her seem normal. In Blacksouls, Anne had to deal with the beginning of and her first experiences with Slavery - and I FELT ALL OF HER INDIGNATION AND RIGHTFUL OFFENSE AND PURE ANGER. Slavery was given JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF EVERYTHING, especially since it was told from a POC's point of view 2) Teach, on the other hand, was an interesting character, but nowhere near as interesting as Anne. He was RIDICULOUSLY POSSESSIVE, and a total anti-feminist and that annoyed me. He LOVED ANNE, but didn't think her capable of anything. I get that he wanted to keep her safe but SIGH. I DID LOVE his transition (or rather how we saw for the first time) his abilities as a sailor and a captain, and I truly believed that he could be a great future pirate. 3) I loved the secondary characters - Alastair, Beth, Cara, Coyle, Easton, John, Reva and Benjamin - and all the added twists, turns and substance they gave the story. 4) Most of all, I TRULY fell in love with this book when the whole *ahem* conspiracy of Evil Dudes came to light. I loved how you could see this TEAM coming together and I LOVED ALL OF THEM which brings me to - IS THESE GOING TO BE A SEQUEL? Because while this didn't end on a cliffhanger, I LOVED THE ENDING SO MUCH AND WHERE THE CHARACTERS ARE GOING SO PLEASE LET ME HAVE MORE! Would I recommend this series? HE*L YES. Especially now that you can binge the two books together. An swashbuckling, brilliant story that will have you on slowly falling in love with everyone in it.
All of the pirate books I read in the future will be measured against Blacksouls because this is the swashbuckling tale that I've been waiting for all of my life. I originally picked it up, only planning on reading a few chapters before bed since it was already pretty late, but before I knew it—it was 4 a.m. and I had read the entire thing. This heart-stopping book absolutely demanded to be read and I was literally unable to put it down. In fact, I had adrenaline coursing through my veins long after I was finished reading. Blacksouls made me want to put on my pirate outfit and set sail, all while marathoning the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. This book has sword fights, cannon face-offs, pistol showdowns, and fist fights. I could feel the spray of the seawater on my face and the sand in my shoes. The smell of gunpowder was surely in the air in my bedroom that night. This was such a perfect, emotionally-charged read that I loved even more than it's predecessor, which is quite a feat in itself because I loved Blackhearts a lot. The only bad thing about this book? We have another open-ended finale with no book three confirmation! You can count on me to be kicking, screaming, and doing everything in my power until we get confirmation from the publisher of a third book. This wonderful series begs for more in what is clearly at least a trilogy, and it truly is deserving of a proper ending.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman Book Two of the Blackhearts series Publisher: Simon Pulse Publication Date: April 11, 2017 Rating: 3 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss Summary (from Goodreads): Nicole Castroman brings the dangerous pirate ports of the Caribbean to life in this vibrant sequel to Blackhearts—the reimagined origin story of history’s most infamous pirate, Blackbeard. Edward “Teach” Drummond is setting sail to the Caribbean as first mate on the most celebrated merchant ship in the British fleet—until he rebels against his captain. Mutiny is a capital offense and Teach knows it could cost him his life, but he believes it worth the risk in order to save his crew from the attacking Spanish ships. Sailing on the same blue waters, Anne barely avoids the Spanish attack, making it safely to Nassau. But lawless criminals, corrupt politics, and dangerous intentions fill the crowded streets of this Caribbean port. Soon, Anne discovers that the man entrusted to keep the peace is quite possibly the most treacherous of them all—and he just happens to hold Teach’s fate in his terrifying hands. Life and death hang in the balance when Teach and Anne are given a dangerous mission. It’s a mission that will test their love, loyalty and devotion, forcing them down a path neither one could have ever imagined. What I Liked: Over a year ago, I read Blackhearts and enjoyed the story, but hated the ending. At the time, no sequel had been contracted. This weighed somewhat on my rating of the book. Months later, a sequel was announced (just one). Who wasn't excited?! I think this was a good sequel, and probably as good as the first book, for most readers. But I personally wasn't feeling it, didn't love it, and that's how the three-star rating is showing up again. I fully admit the fact that most readers will probably love this book. I didn't. I didn't hate it either though. Blackhearts left us with a terrible, horrible ending. This book picks up nearly where its predecessor left off (give or take a few days, maybe weeks? I can't remember). Anne is on a ship to Nassau, but she has made friends with Cara and Coyle, who offer to let her stay with their uncle at Nassau. Anne and the rest of the ship arrive safely in Nassau, and she begins to work for Alastair in his tavern. Teach is on another ship, bound for Nassau as well. But when Teach arrives, he is arrested by Governor Webb and given a merciless decision: find the pirate Easton, or hang. The politics of Nassau are filthy and corrupt, and there is nothing that Teach and Anne can do about it, except flee. Teach sets out to find Easton, with Anne stowed away. But they will discover what they feared about Governor Webb, Lord Pelham, and other men of power at Nassau. I adored Teach in this book. His character development is subtle and something you don't actively notice, but from the start of this book to the finish, you can see how much he has grown. He is less of a lovesick boy and more of a hardened, fierce, loyal man. He assumes a captain's role of more than one ship, and it suits him. I liked seeing him become even more of a leader, and a smart one at that. He never thinks of himself alone, always of his crew, and Anne, and Anne's loved ones. Anne, meh. I didn't really care for her in this book. I'll talk about her in the next section. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
After that ending on Blacksouls, I was so eager to get my hands on this book. And my main take away is that there better be another book. I especially loved Anne this time around. She refused to be left behind or wait while the men handled things. She learns things to take care of herself and it just endeared her to me so much. Teach, of course, is lovely and the scenes with them together were adorable. The story is fast paced, the bad guys were especially bad, and the ending was satisfying, I'm going to need more. A lot more. And a whoooole lot more of Reva. **Huge thanks to Simon Pulse and NetGalley for providing the arc free of charge**