Who doesn't love a good, swashbuckling female pirate? This story is wonderful. Orphaned Kestrel has worked her way into the respect of her shipmates, besting them with her quick sword, willingness to work, and quick wit. She's risen to quartermaster on the Wolfshead under captain Artemus Binns.
While docked in El-draga harbor, a stranger named Philip McAvery, captain of the Thanos meets with Binns and strikes a deal – to switch ships! Kestrel is furious, but even more so when she finds in the morning that the Wolfshead has vanished and Binns has been clapped in irons and taken to the King for the theft of the Thanos. Not trusting anyone but her shipmates, Kestrel leads them aboard the Thanos, fighting magic as well as seamen, and takes the ship to attempt a rescue of her captain, who is like a father to her as well.
As if this weren't exiting enough, the rogue McAvery keeps showing up in unexpected places and flirting with her before she can run a sword through his gullet. Kestrel is also trying to avoid the Danisobans who want to capture her for her own well hidden magical abilities. They've already caught her once, and she definitely doesn't want it to happen again!
Nothing remains what Kestrel expects. The logbook of the Wolfshead is to be delivered to the King, according to the last order she received from Binns, but why would the King want the logbook of a pirate vessel? McAvery obviously set up Binns to take the fall for the theft of the Thanos, but then he seems to honestly want to help in Binns' rescue. Kestrel took to the sea to stay away from the Danisobans, whose magic can't work on water and who get ill if near large amounts of it. Kestrel's magic, however, seems unaffected, and she certainly doesn't get sea sick. What do all of these mysteries mean?
They mean a rousingly fun book that keeps you guessing. Through many twists and turns, I found this world believable and engaging. The characters are easy to like and don't always do what you expect. The story has as many intriguing layers as the beautiful cover art. I definitely want to follow these characters into their next adventures! It's hard to believe that this well crafted and fun story is Misty Massey's first novel. It reads like the work of an accomplished and well seasoned writer. Way to go – and please write the rest of the series!
P.S. The cover on this is so beautiful, and so unlike any other art out there, that I hardly know what to say about it. Shelly Wan definitely captures the feel of the story in her sweeping, stylized cover.