Magic Marks the Spot

The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1

Hilary Westfield is the daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral, a man who would like nothing more than to rid Augusta of pirates forever. That is too bad, because young Hilary wants nothing more than to be a pirate. The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates, however, will not accept Hilary’s application for membership as a pirate, simply because Hilary is a girl. Even so, Hilary refuses to give up her dream. After her father sends her off to finishing school, she runs away to join a pirate crew, who is in possession of a treasure map that will lead them to the treasure of the Enchanted Empress. All the greatest magic in the land becomes the greatest treasure hunt of Hilary’s life, but soon she’ll also face the biggest battle of her pirate life, against a most surprising villain!

The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates, Book 1, Magic Marks the Spot is a fantastic debut novel by Caroline Carlson. I enjoyed reading this story and found it hard to put the book down. The crew young Hilary is a part of is such a mismatched crew; there’s young Charlie, an orphan that Captain Fletcher took into his care; Fitzwilliam, a parrot – er, budgerigar; and, of course, Hilary’s governess, Miss Greyson, for how could she possibly allow Hilary to romp across the High Seas without her supervision? There is also, of course, the gargoyle, who hails from Westfield Manor and is supposed to protect Hilary. Another member of the crew is Oliver, a former employee for Admiral Westfield who Hilary does NOT get along with and is extremely suspicious of. Charlie tries to keep the peace among the two of them as they set sail for treasure, but even he becomes suspicious of Oliver after he starts acting strangely. Another unexpected thing about this pirate crew is that they do no act like a typical pirate crew. Oh, sure, they talk like pirates and do the whole swashbuckling act, but the thing about them is that they are polite – in fact, TOO polite. The way they talk to each other and to other people just does not make them sound like pirates at all. Still, there’s a lot of pirate spirit among them.

The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates, Book 1, Magic Marks the Spot is a story for young readers filled with excitement, adventure, and a piratical swashbuckling journey. The characters are so lively and entertaining, and the story will keep readers turning the pages as one surprise after another unfolds. While the star of the story is a girl, both boys and girls are sure to be entertained by this very nearly honorable pirate tale.

Book Blurb for Magic Marks the Spot

Pirates! Magic! Treasure! A gargoyle? Caroline Carlson's hilarious tween novel The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot is perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events and Trenton Lee Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society.

Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. She can tread water for thirty-seven minutes. She can tie a knot faster than a fleet of sailors, and she already owns a rather pointy sword.

There's only one problem: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates refuses to let any girl join their ranks of scourges and scallywags.

But Hilary is not the kind of girl to take no for answer. To escape a life of petticoats and politeness at her stuffy finishing school, Hilary sets out in search of her own seaworthy adventure, where she gets swept up in a madcap quest involving a map without an X, a magical treasure that likely doesn't exist, a talking gargoyle, a crew of misfit scallywags, and the most treacherous—and unexpected—villain on the High Seas.

Written with uproarious wit and an inviting storyteller tone, the first book in Caroline Carlson's quirky seafaring series is a piratical tale like no other.

Night Owl Reviews Feb, 2014 5.00