Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull by James Matlack  Raney

Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Young Jim Morgan returns to seek a powerful talisman and retribution against a malevolent pirate in Raney’s (Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves, 2012) YA adventure sequel.

Jim and his fellow orphan tweens, Lacey and the three Ratt brothers, are elated to finally have a home when Jim’s lost estate, Morgan Manor, is finally returned to him. But when the house is destroyed, Jim wants vengeance against those responsible: Count Cromier and his vicious son, Bartholomew, who’ve also stolen a map that Jim’s father gave him. The map shows the way to the Treasure of the Ocean, a trident that gives its wielder amazing power. The book is a quick-paced pirate tale with elements that may seem derivative to some readers. However, most will enjoy the genre essentials, such as the aforementioned treasure map, mermaids—or, in this case, merpeople—and a kraken attack.  The author prudently relegates the more overt pirate traits to the elderly MacGuffy, Jim’s friend who has an eye patch and speaks in pirate-talk (“Then we’ll be seein’ ye in the mornin’ ”). Raney acknowledges but doesn’t patronize younger readers by providing understated explanations of some terminology, such as “crags” and “harpies.” (The latter are a trio of bird-women who nearly steal the novel with their comical bickering and horrifying, persistent craving for “man flesh.”) Even some rather heavy-handed symbols are nonetheless entertaining. For example, Jim carries a blackened rose stem, symbolic of his desire for revenge, that enchants and poisons him, and Cornelius, a talking raven, occasionally sits on Jim’s shoulder as the manifestation of his conscience, asking if he’s sure about his next move. The story’s images range from funny (Cornelius belly-laughing with his wings against his stomach) to unsettling (a harpy’s drool collecting on Jim’s cheek). Raney virtually guarantees a third book in this ongoing series with a cliffhanger and, earlier in the book, one character’s ominous farewell.

A YA adventure that will likely charm many readers, regardless of age.

Pub Date: Nov. 22nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0985835934
Page count: 342pp
Publisher: Dreamfarer Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2014




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