Plucky piratical orphan Jacky Faber relies on luck and skill to avoid hanging—yet again—in this 12th and, sadly, final book of the stellar Bloody Jack series, published posthumously.
The 19-year-old previously fled Boston and foreswore men after she was publicly whipped by her (disguised) love interest, James “Jaimy” Fletcher (Boston Jacky, 2013). Here, she returns to the city only to face false charges of treason. Setting sail, she first lands in nearby Plymouth and serves as governess to a bloodthirsty Edgar Allen Polk (the future poet Poe), then joins the circus—a logical if belated career move. Thanks to her prior extraordinary but well-plotted encounters with rogues, royals and other historical figures of the turn of the 19th century, Jacky has friends and enemies everywhere (and mentions nearly all of them in her nostalgic moments), and she soon faces the hangman with trademark gallows humor. Jacky is a complicated protagonist, unchanging—always stubborn, entrepreneurial, flirtatious and quick to cross-dress—and in constant motion, and she’s a shameless self-promoter (with help from her publisher and friend, Amy Trevelyne), marked with scars and tattoos, who now needs anonymity. Meyer adheres to his effective and enjoyable formula, offering an impressively accomplished heroine, suspense as taut as a hangman’s rope and a satisfying conclusion.
A solid and sentimental entry in an underrated series. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)