Book: Blackhearts

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
Genre: young adult, historical, fiction
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Date: February 9, 2016
Reviewed by: Courtney DeWitt
Fiction Addict Scorecard: B

Blackbeard is one of the most famous pirates commonly known today. Thanks to movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, the romanticizing of pirates like him has produced more movies, the obligatory costumes, and novels. Now, although I know some do not prefer pirates to be romanticized. What they did on the high seas is after all quite unsettling and heinous. Yet the idea of adventure, of freedom, and of the kind of vigilante justice dispensed in comics is too hard to resist for some. I fall here in this category of those who find piracy fascinating, as does the author of Blackhearts, Nicole Castroman.

Edward Drummond, known as “Teach” by his friends, is tired of high society. After spending a year out at sea, all he can think of is being back on the open ocean. His father, however, has other plans for Teach. He is to wed a girl he doesn’t love and learn his father’s merchant trade. If only he could convince his father to let him go and sail the seas forever.

Anne Barrett has a desire for the sea for a different reason. As the maid for Master Drummond, she has been squirreling money away, not all of it clean, so she can go back to the islands her mother was taken from on a slaver ship years ago. Being stuck in England where she doesn’t fit in drains the life out of her, and all she wants is freedom.

Then Teach and Anne meet the day he arrives back in England from his year at sea, and the flames rise. Their strong wills create sparks that complicates Anne’s plans. As their love grows, will they both find the freedom they desire and be able to share the love that is forbidden in English society?

Blackhearts grabbed me as soon as I saw it on the bookshelf and again as soon as I read the first chapter. Although I certainly hoard good pirate novels, not all of them are created equal. I desired adventure and the search for freedom to pull at my heart strings. The completion of this novel instead gave me a different perspective and an impatient stomping for the sequel. The knowledge of the time period is evident throughout- which is no surprise considering Castroman’s academic background in history. Each scene comes alive without being bogged down by too much detail. After all, historical novels are supposed to transport us to another time, which Blackhearts efficiently did for me.

The development swiftly carried me through each exchange of viewpoints between Teach and Anne. While we begin with Anne in the kitchens, as she serves at dinner the view switches smoothly to Teach’s thoughts. The development of attraction between the two and how it changes them kept me glued to the pages. Again, the point of view transitions enlightened me to their emotions about each other and those that affected their desire for one another. Seeing Teach’s pure affection for Anne while Anne then questioned if Teach was genuine made the story rich and mirror real life.

I did harbor one grievance and one grievance only. (Not much in the way of piracy is seen in Blackhearts. Though I certainly saw insight into what drove a young Edward Teach to a life of piracy, the lack of it in the novel disappointed me in the end. My thirst for high seas swashbuckling was not quenched.) However, the knowledge of a sequel forthcoming lightened my spirits and gives me hope that my desire for the action I long for will be fulfilled. Even with the small disappointment, I still thoroughly enjoyed this quick read about Blackbeard’s origins and have given it a permanent home among other piratey mates.

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