A boy-pirate hero attempts to save the world in the high-spirited conclusion to Raney’s (Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull, 2013, etc.) middle-grade fantasy series.
Over the course of earlier installments, the orphaned Jim Morgan, currently 14, went from the lap of luxury as an English lord’s son to an adventurous life as a pirate and thief, sailing the seas on a mighty ship, the Spectre, with his friends and co-conspirators, Lacey and brothers George and Peter Ratt. In the last book, Jim came into possession of an incredibly powerful magical object, the Hunter’s Shell; it was split in two, and one half wound up in the hands of the evil Count Cromier and his son, Bartholomew. In this installment, Jim and his friends vow to destroy the Shell before the Cromiers can use it to find the golden trident known as the Treasure of the Ocean, which could doom the world if wielded by the wrong person. Their quest sets them in the path of other pirates, as well as magical creatures, such as dragons, merfolk, ogres and a devious talking cat called Janus Blacktail. The story ends by revealing secrets of Jim’s lineage that will change his life forever. Raney crafts a swashbuckling adventure that’s genuinely thrilling, not only in its rapid pacing, but also in its extremely clever plotting and endlessly inventive set pieces, which mix and match historical and mythological references in a seamless mélange. It captures the flavor of old-fashioned serials and features fleshed-out, youthful protagonists whose lives are a joy to follow. Although this tale is clearly intended to be the culmination of a three-book journey, Raney presents the material in such a way that even someone who joined the ride late won’t have any trouble following the story and, more importantly, caring about the characters and their quest. Overall, this suspenseful, engrossing novel has all the sophistication of the very best YA best-sellers.
A riotously entertaining series closer that should appeal to fantasy-loving children of all ages.