Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates) by Caroline Carlson-Audiobook Review
Release Date: 9/10/2013
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About the Book: Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. But when her application to The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates is rejected because she's a girl and Hilary discovers that her parents will be sending her off to Miss Pimm's Finishing School to become a proper lady, Hilary knows she must do something! When she sees an ad for a pirate crew, Hilary knows she must apply! Hilary and her talking gargoyle set out on an adventure on the high seas looking for treasure and encounter a terrible villain of the high seas!
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I love a good rollicking fun filled adventure and The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates is the start to an adventurous series that is sure to delight middle grade readers.
Hilary is a spunky main character-just the sort of girl you would expect to sneak her way out of finishing school and join up with pirates. She's joined by a talking gargoyle who is very witty and has a soft spot for romance. The banter between the two characters is charming and hilarious and I loved the uniqueness of Hilary's sidekick being a talking magical object. Hilary has a delightful cast of characters around her-her governess who might just be up for some for adventure, her school roommate who aspires to be an actress, Jasper the pirate captain and his crew, her admiral father who wants to get rid or pirates and even the proper Miss Pimm. All the characters are well fleshed out and have a distinct personality.
The plot is fast paced and full of adventure. There are some great surprises and twists along the way and I loved how the author was able to weave the characters and storylines together. The ultimate bad guy is an interesting twist and I think it opens a lot for future volumes in the series. The writing is wonderfully funny and charming and Augusta is a very well drawn world in which magic is special-but currently being stolen-and pirates are determined by a Very Nearly Honorable League. It's a little bit historical and a little bit fantasy and a lot of action and adventure and fun.
What I especially loved about this one was Hilary herself. She wants to be a pirate and she won't give up on this dream. And she doesn't pose as a boy to make this dream come true. I feel like the girl-disguised-as-a-boy theme is often overdone and I was pleased that that didn't happen in this book but instead Hilary decides she won't take no for an answer and she'll be honest about who she is.
I first learned about this book thanks to the delightful Katherine Kellgren who narrates the audiobook, so I knew I had to listen to this one. I'm so glad I did! Kellgren is once again excellent and gives a rousing narration and you can tell she's having a blast telling this story. The writing is witty and the jokes come across wonderfully on audio. At the end of each chapter, the story is interspersed with letters and newspaper articles and Kellgren is given a chance to flex her narration skills by adding a breadth of voices to these sections. I especially loved her Miss Pimm voice and thought it had a great nod to Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey (I'm not sure if this was the intent but I loved it and thought it was perfect!) Kellgren gives Hilary a high energy and it balances well with Jasper's gruff pirate voice, Miss Greyson's (Hilary's governess) quiet sensibility, and her best friend from finishing school Claire, who is overly excitable and dramatic. This audiobook Katherine Kellgren doing what she does best-bringing a delightful cast of characters to an engaging story to make an excellent treat for the ears. I can't wait for the next book in the series.
Book Pairings: Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer, Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook I purchased at Audible.com