A SWASHBUCKLING TALE INVOLVING PIRATES, SHIPS, ADVENTURES ON STORMY SEAS, FACING DANGEROUS BEASTS IN THE MERCILESS DESERT, AND MUCH MORE.
WHAT IS THE BOOK ABOUT:
Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always being told that girls can’t be explorers.
But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.
Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates – and discover what they are risking everything to find.
Summary copied from Goodreads
WHO ARE THE PLAYERS?
Aleja (pronounced al-lehlha) – our adventure-hungry protagonist.
Captain Elizabeth Quint – the Captain of the Ship of Shadows.
Malika – Captain Quint’s first mate.
Frances – Aleja’s best friend.
Olitiana, Aada, Griete, Farren, Velka – the rest of the crew members.
Penumbra – Quint’s pet owl
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THE BOOK?
Pirates, ships, adventures on stormy seas, facing dangerous beasts in the merciless desert, a taste of the beauty of Morocco, and above all, a band of fearless girls and women out to rule the world. Maria Kuzniar’s The Ship of Shadows offers all of these and much more.
Intriguing blurb, a gorgeous book cover, and a promise of all the above. What more does a book blogger trapped in her home since the last four months (due to the current pandemic) want?
Without further ado, let us board the Ship of Shadows and see what went right and wrong for me.
Kuzniar’s The Ship of Shadows features a breath-taking array of characters. All the characters are brilliantly etched out; each has a distinct voice.
I could feel Aleja’s yearn for exploration and her loneliness as she could never assimilate with other girls, nor could her family understand her wholly. I rooted for her the entire time she determinedly strived to gain the crew’s trust.
I felt Captain Quint’s desperation to seek what was hers. I also understood Malika’s thirst for revenge. The rest of the girls do not lag far behind in leaving an impression on me.
THE SHIP OF SHADOWS
Moreover, the Ship itself is a character here – more of a living being to its crew. It is their home. Its quirks, its magic fills their lives as much as it makes it a legend. Kuzniar’s imagination runs wild in creating a ship that is full of magic, books, jewels, and shadows. It made me wistful to be aboard the Ship of Shadows as a crew member; Kuzniar has crafted it so lovingly. Every crew member has a talent of her own, and everyone can explore more of her talent. It is a dream come true for Aleja, who has been told not to toe the line all her life.
Now, why it is called a Ship of Shadows, you need to read the book to find out.
ALL THE ADVENTURES
Further, the dangers are real here. Well, as real as it can be, if you take magic into account. Krakens, jinns, pirate hunters, quicksand – the book has it all, resulting in a swashbuckling tale.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN
However, the middle of the tale falters a bit. It was like hopping from one adventure to another without taking a breath. I, thus, felt disconnected from the plot as well as the characters during the middle of the story.
… the book redeems itself a few chapters later. The pace is still fast, but it does not move at a breakneck speed which allowed me to connect with
the my band of women once more. By the end of the book, Frances, Aleja’s best friend, had made a special place in my heart due to her quick wits and jovial nature.
The mystery is satisfactorily solved by the end. Other than a minor cliffhanger, the climax neatly wraps up (almost) all the threads in the story, barring the ones which will surely be answered in a sequel.
To conclude, while the Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar is beautifully written with elements of magic, pirates, and adventure, it failed to excite me as much as I wanted to be excited. However, it is an excellent middle-grade fantasy fiction.
Pick it up and set sail on an adventure with Aleja.
Thank you Dave @ The Write Reads for organizing the tour. Many thanks to the author for providing me a free copy. This does not affect my opinion on the book. I opted to provide an honest review on my blog.
Disclaimer – The Amazon.in link is an affiliate link. If you buy from this link, I will get a very small commission at no extra cost to you.
Have you read the book? If you haven’t, do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts below in the comments section.
Maria Kuzniar spent six years living in Spain, teaching English and travelling the world, which inspired her debut novel The Ship of Shadows. Now she lives in Nottingham with her husband, where she reads and writes as much as she can and bookstagrams at @cosyreads.
She is always planning her next adventure.