cover image A True Account

A True Account

Katherine Howe. Holt, $28.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-30488-9

Howe (The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane) brings the world of 18th-century pirates to life in this bracing outing. In 1726 Boston, 17-year-old Hannah Masury flees indentured servitude with Billy Chandler, a boy who’s hiding from the privateers he betrayed to the law to save himself. After Billy’s caught and killed, Hannah assumes his identity and boards another pirate ship, where ruthless Ned Low takes command in a grisly mutiny that sees him cut off the previous captain’s lips and feed them to a dog. Unnerved by Ned’s brutality, Hannah pretends to be his “unquestioning shipmate” until she has a chance to flee. In a parallel narrative set in the 1920s, Radcliffe College student Kay Lonergan discovers Hannah’s journal in a basement on campus; in it, Hannah hints at the location of a buried treasure in the Carribean region. Kay’s professor Marian Beresford has her doubts about the journal’s authenticity, but after Marian mentions it to her father, John, a famous explorer, he offers to fund an expedition to search for the treasure. As the Beresfords travel with Kay to the Florida Keys and Kay’s excitement draws interest from the press, Marian worries she’ll be the one discredited if the journal turns out to be a fake. Hannah’s adventures are riveting, and Howe manages to connect the parallel stories by highlighting how her women protagonists navigate the whims of powerful men. Historical fiction fans will love this. (Nov.)

This review has been updated with further information.