A Reader’s Pure Joy
Having read and truly enjoyed Helen Hollick’s “Sea Witch Voyages,” I was happy to find out more about that charming rascal, Jesamiah Acorne. Was I ever surprised to read where this seemingly English lad had spent his miserable young years [and, no, I am not going to ruin this great story by telling you].
With trepidation, we follow the fifteen-year old’s escape to sea. If his life on land had been miserable and hard, in 1708 life at sea proves even harder. Young Jesamiah soon learns about the drink, the stink and the whoring. He discovers that his volatile captain and the salt-hardened crew are attacking French and Spanish merchant ships throughout the Caribbean. Any smidgen of conscience is eased by Queen Anne’s “Letter of Marque,” giving them royal leave to plunder as it declares them to be honorable privateers in her war against Spain and her allies; when truth be told, their lust for plunder soon turns them into murdering pirates.
Jesamiah, the ship’s boy, grows into Jesamiah, the man (ahem, Pirate). There is foreboding of an intriguing Cornish girl, Tiola, appearing in his dreams. In the later Sea Witch novels, it is she who becomes the rival to Jesamiah’s great love, the sea. And, of course, there is the Mermaid, who tries to lure young Jesamiah into her watery realm with her sweet siren song.
This short prequel to “The Sea Witch Voyages” was made doubly enjoyable for me by the author’s usage of language; spot-on for the time. (And I don’t mean salty language although - leave it to this hat-wearing lady – she can swear like any rum-soaked pirate when the occasion calls for it.) The interwoven descriptions of snapping topgallants, slick ratlines, and belaying-pins and other nautical terms correctly fit those complex old sailing ships on which one false step meant certain death.
You’ve got to love Jesamiah and, you've got to get this novella. It's only 99c (or 99p in Britain).
Also, check out Helen Hollick's interesting blogs: