"Charming" isn't an adjective oft associated with salty sea sailors, but in the case of "Bloody" Jack Faber, it's pretty much an understatement. No leading lad (er, lass) in recent memory has enchanted me quite like this one. If ye aren't familiar with young Jacky of the high seas, get thee to a library. Quick-like. Ye won't be disappointed, me hearties, 'cause Bloody Jack is a treasure indeed.
Bloody Jack, the first in a series of swashbuckling YA novels by L.A. Meyer, begins in 1797 in the grimy back alleys of London, where the newly-orphaned Mary Faber has just been tossed. Picked up by a street gang, Mary survives the way all guttersnipes do: "We begs mostly, please Mum please Mum please Mum, over and over and we steals a bit and we gets by, just" (7). But when Mary's best mate is murdered one night, she realizes she can't handle life on the streets any longer. She takes the dead boy's clothes, stuffs his shiv down her shirt, and makes for the docks. Since she's small for her age (which she estimates to be around 12), with no obvious womanly traits to distinguish her from all the scruffy young boys hanging around the shipyard, she figures finding a job can't be too hard. She figures right. And wrong.
Posing as "Jacky" Faber, Mary becomes a ship's boy on the HMS Dolphin, a man-of-war headed for North Africa to chase pirates. The finding part's easy enough, it's the keeping of the job that's tough. Mary takes her licks, sure does, but works hard and learns to handle life at sea. The one thing on which she can't get a handle, though, is her changing body - the more she grows, the harder it becomes to keep her secret, well, secret. It doesn't help that she's getting right moony over fellow ship's boy, Jaimy Fletcher.
As Mary comes of age on the high seas, she finds trouble, triumph, adventure and, ultimately, her own salty, sea lovin' self. With a voice so authentic, so thoroughly charming that it pours off the page, she's not just memorable, she's completely unforgettable. I loved every second of my time with her, so much so that before I even got to Bloody Jack's third chapter, I already had the rest of the books in the series on reserve at my library. That's how enamored I am with Ms. "Bloody" Jack Faber. So enchanted am I by this book that I can't even come up with a criticism. I just loved it. Totally. Completely. Every last page, every last sentence, every last word. Ye will, too, scurvy dog, or it'll be the plank for yer sorry self ...
If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), violence, and sexual content/innuendo
To the FTC, with love: Another library