BLOODY JACK

Louis A. Meyer, Author, L. A. Meyer, Author . Harcourt $17 (336p) ISBN 978-0-15-216731-8

"I prays for deliverance," confides Mary Faber, orphaned at eight years old by a pestilence that relegates her to a life of begging and petty crime on the streets of London. After her gang's leader is killed, she dons his clothing, trading in the name Mary for Jack, and takes to the high seas aboard the HMS Dolphin. Meyer evokes life in the 18th-century Royal Navy with Dickensian flair. He seamlessly weaves into Jacky's first-person account a wealth of historical and nautical detail at a time when pirates terrorized the oceans. Interspersed are humorous asides about her ongoing struggle to maintain "The Deception" (she fashions herself a codpiece and emulates the "shake-and-wiggle action" of the other boys when pretending to use the head, for instance), she earns her titular nickname in a clash with pirates and survives a brief stretch as a castaway before her true identity is discovered (the book ends as she's about to be shipped off to a school for young ladies in Boston). The narrative's dialect occasionally falters, but this detracts only slightly from the descriptive prose ("He's got muscles like a horse and looks to have a brain to match") and not at all from the engine driving this sprawling yarn: the spirited heroine's wholly engaging voice. Her budding sexuality (which leads to a somewhat flawed plotline involving a secret shipboard romance) and a near-rape by a seaman mark this one for older readers, who will find the salty tale a rattling good read. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 10/07/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
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FORMATS
Paperback - 301 pages - 978-0-15-205085-6
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-30410-8
Prebound-Glued - 301 pages - 978-0-613-71640-6
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-7569-4284-7
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-547-41619-9
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