I received a galley of this novel from NetGalley for review. This in no way affected my opinions.
I need to preface this review with the statement that lady pirates are most likely my favorite all-time historical subject. I study and read about them, I watch TV and films with them, I even create my own lady pirate characters for stories. I love them.
So, the fact that this book contained a fierce red-headed lady pirate captain, I was all over it, so to speak. There was the fear that I may be disappointed (it's not like books about lady pirates grow on trees) because this book was written by a male author and told from the perspective of a man. I feared, because I thought the lady pirate may be some unrealistic male fantasy. Alas, no! Captain Hannah Mabbot was a realistic pirate and a fully fleshed out character.
The bare bones of the story is this: chef Owen Wedgwood is kidnapped by Captain Hannah Mabbot after she kills his employer. He gets to keep his life if he cooks one fancy meal a week for her. So, Wedgwood must improvise with the ingredients found on a pirate ship. And I really loved how he worked around getting the ingredients that he got. He had to plan ahead and make deals, it was quite interesting to watch.
But Captain Mabbot isn't just dilly-dallying around eating food, she's after the elusive Brass Fox, with whom she has a mysterious score to settle.
We see all the characters through the view of Wedgwood, and it was quite fascinating to read how his perspective of everyone, and of pirating in general, started to change throughout the months. Of course, the best thing to watch was how his view of Mabbot changed. How she went from a one-dimensional ruthless pirate, to a full formed person with strengths and weakness, goals and fears.
Pirating was not glossed over here, and was not seen as romantic. I thought the book really captured the grittiness of pirating.
I could literally sit here and write paragraphs about Mabbot, but I just have to say I was really impressed. Like I said, it's not everyday a book about a lady pirate comes out, so I have to read what I can get. The fact that I wasn't disappointed in the least, makes me very, very happy. She's everything I love in a lady pirate: the fact that she was really no different from a male pirate. She was realistic, and that's all I wanted.