Review - The Pirate Witch by Damian Serbu
My rating: starstarstarstar_halfstar_border
Alexander is born at the worst possible time and place for someone to be different, in early seventeenth century Salem, Massachusetts Colony, where the Puritans are still on the hunt for witches. Alexander's mother is brutally murdered by the townspeople, who think she's a witch, and his father dies of the shock of it. The thing is, she really was a witch, and so is Alexander. His mother's dying wish is that Alexander survive, hiding his powers from prying eyes.
The boy is given into the care of his uncle, a drunkard who makes it no secret that he considers Alexander nothing more than a slave to work his mill. Alexander bridles under the thumb of his uncle, not least because he is sure the man was his mother's accuser. His only protector is Crispin, a man from Boston who is sent by the governor to check on the goings-on in Salem.
Over time, Alexander and Crispin form a relationship which is potentially even more dangerous for them than witchcraft. Unfortunately, Crispin is under the thumb of his domineering mother, who convinces him that his duty is to marry a suitable girl and join the navy. When the two continue to see each other, she engineers Alexander's exposure as a witch, forcing him to flee. Escape comes in the form of a group of pirates, led by the charismatic Henri, who takes a liking to Alexander. The two become lovers as the witch uses his powers to help the pirates find ships to pillage and flee from attackers.
But Alexander's old life is not completely left behind. For some reason, the ghosts of his past chase him all the way to the Caribbean.
“The Pirate Witch” may sound like a lightweight fantasy, but it manages to be much more than that. There's a depth to the characters and a complexity to the story line that you don't typically see in fantasy stories. Not only are the main characters well drawn, but they're surrounded by a good cast of secondary players, many with their own stores to tell.
The plot is just as well laid out as the characters. You may have an idea of where things will end up, but you won't know for sure until the last few pages. There are a lot of twists and turns along Alexander's path that will keep you guessing up to the very end. If the dots don't quite connect up in an entirely satisfactory way, it may be that the author is just leaving room for a sequel.
“The Pirate Witch” may be purchased from Amazon.
Posted in Book Reviews on March 10, 2015