Nancy Kington is the daughter of a Bristol shipping businessman, a merchant and a man of means. He owns a plantation in Jamaica, a 'factory' for the processing of sugar cane, and a fleet of ships. He buys and sells all sorts of goods from different parts of the world and for many years Nancy has a free and reasonably happy life. Nancy's father also buys and sells humans, slaves from Africa, but this is something his daughter never thought much about until her father dies suddenly. With his death comes financial ruin and great change in Nancy's life. She is sent to Jamaica, to the plantation which is now hers, and suddenly the question of slavery becomes a very real one to this fair-skinned girl from Bristol. Nancy's father not only left the plantation to Nancy, he also left her with a terrible future. Before he died, he promised her in marriage to a frightening and cruel man called Bartholome, a Brazilian plantation owner who lives in Jamaica and who has a shadowy and dark past. One dreadful night Nancy finds herself caught up series of desperate and violent events. Nancy and a slave girl called Minerva decide to flee to the hills; one from a marriage she cannot imagine herself in, and the other from certain death. What follows is the journey that these two girls make, always fleeing from the terrifying Bartholome who seeks them out. They soon find themselves on a pirate ship, "on account," in other words, they become part of the ship's company. Soon Minerva and Nancy are pirates in every way, fighting and eating alongside the men, sharing in the labor and in the winnings. Minerva fits in well with the life at sea, but Nancy feels always that there is something else that she needs to makeher happy. Written with extraordinary insight into the human heart and a through understanding of the times, this book is hard to put down. Fast paced, exciting, and full of unexpected twists and turns in the plot, we are carried forward, hoping that Nancy will find what she is looking for and that she will not have to give up on her dreams. Often brutal, cruel, and harsh, hers was a world where it was easy to get lost in the fight for survival. The author does not gloss over the reality of this world and the facts can often be both shocking and very moving. The misery that slavery caused to hundreds of people cannot be forgotten. 2003, Bloomsbury, Ages 15 up.
The author of Witch Child and its sequel Sorceress is a gifted writer of historical fiction for YAs; she is especially good at creating strong, intelligent female characters who escape from the worst woes of their times. This lengthy story begins in Bristol, England, in 1722. Nancy, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner and trader, is the narrator. When Nancy's father dies, her brothers ship her off to their estates in Jamaica, where she awaits marriage with a wealthy Brazilian. In Jamaica she is horrified by the slavery she sees and befriends two house slaves, Phyllis and her daughter Minerva. It is Minerva who will become an equally important character in this tale; we soon guess Minerva is Nancy's half-sister, and the two are inseparable friends. Nancy meets her intended husband and hates him; Minerva is nearly raped by the brutal overseer; so the two, with Minerva's mother, flee to a settlement of runaway slaves in the highlands of the island. Nancy's presence endangers these hospitable folks because the Brazilian is hunting Nancy down, so she and Minerva choose the only way out; they join a pirate ship and become pirates. Yes, we are talking about guns and swords, knives, jewels, high seas and dangerous people. Nancy and Minerva actually become dangerous people: good fighters, clever in deception. Rees makes this world of pirates absolutely real; and perhaps readers will be seeing the Pirates of the Caribbean movie with Johnny Depp this summer to help them visualize this adventure. Added to the day-by-day dangers in the life of pirates are two main plotlines; Nancy is in love with a young man from Bristol who is in the British Navy hunting down pirates (yes, he captures her;punishment is hanging); and that evil man from Brazil just won't let Nancy go (his ship is also hunting her with determination). Amid the appealing adventures are serious considerations of the plight of slaves and women. Rees is a good researcher who gets the historical details right. KLIATT Codes: JS*; Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Bloomsbury, 321p.,
Gr 6-9-This swashbuckling adventure features all of the elements of a grand pirate tale: sword fights, duels, charming rogues, true love, murder, and the odd severed head. Narrator Nancy Kington joins a pirate crew to escape an arranged marriage to a deliciously evil Brazilian, a former pirate himself. She takes along Minerva, a slave who not too surprisingly turns out to be her half sister. The pirates, in one of many happy coincidences, are captained by Mr. Broom, who had already befriended Nancy on an earlier voyage. Quickly adapting to the life, the two young women survive storms, capture, mutiny, and more. This crew manages to steal with little or no bloodshed, except when the victims are clearly villainous themselves. Nancy comes to relish the excitement of sea life, but still hopes to reunite with the young man she loves, who serves with the British Navy. The narration is well paced and engrossing, giving readers a strong feel for the times without bogging down in details. Nancy describes the practice of slavery and the rights of women perceptively, but fairly convincingly for a 1725 character of her background and experience. The first 100 pages are less exciting than the rest of the book, but they set the stage nicely for the involving exploits that follow. The inevitable showdown with the Brazilian provides a satisfying page-turner of a climax. While a few of the supporting characters seem a bit wooden, and some plot twists stretch credulity, this is a rip-roaring adventure with an engaging female heroine.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A rambling, romantic 18th-century tale features a teenaged British heiress who, along with her African half-sister, avoids Terrible Fate by becoming a pirate. In the wake of her father's sudden death, Nancy finds herself hustled from comfortable Bristol to the family's Jamaican sugar plantation, where she forms an alliance with Minerva, a strangely attractive body slave. Following the shocking discovery that her thoroughly vile brothers have sold her to cruel, swarthy ex-buccaneer Bartholome, Nancy stops the plantation's vicious overseer from raping Minerva by blowing out his brains-whereupon both young women don men's clothing and go to sea. Minerva and Nancy both demonstrate facility with fist, blade, and pistol as they survive storms, battle, attempted mutiny, leering suitors, and other hazards-climaxed by a confrontation with Bartholome, who pursues her relentlessly from the Caribbean to Madagascar. Minerva's true identity comes out eventually, and in the end, both she and Nancy acquire suitable mates without losing their yen for adventure. An ambitious but fundamentally conventional tale, closer to Ann Rinaldi's historical novels than the more rousing likes of Avi's True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. (Fiction. YA)
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"Robust and romantic."
« "[Rees ] tells a riveting, full-speed adventure filled with girl-powered action, magic, and love...