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Celia Rees is the author of many books for young readers including bestseller Witch Child and Sorceress. Her first book was published in 1993, a thriller for teenagers. She now divides her time between writing, talking to readers in schools and libraries, and teaching creative writing. She gets her inspiration from the world around her: newspaper stories, people she meets, places she visits. Celia lives in Leamington Spa, England with her husband and teenage daughter, Catrin.
Fans of Rees's earlier Witch Child will relish this highly romantic cross-dressing romp on the high seas in the early 18th century. Readers new to the author may be drawn in by the book's good looks: handsome cover art and appropriately swashbuckling endpapers. After her family's fortunes founder, and her merchant (and slave trader) father dies, narrator Nancy is sent from her Bristol home to the Jamaica plantation she is slated to inherit. There the 16-year-old learns she has been promised in marriage to the Brazilian Bartholome, a sadistic man rumored to be "the Devil himself." Nancy runs away with Minerva, the slave girl to whom she has grown close, and they wind up on the pirate ship captained by the gentlemanly officer who befriended Nancy on her way to Jamaica. Clad in men's clothes, the two girls adapt quickly to their new life, but Nancy's prophetic nightmares indicate that the Brazilian still hunts for his vanished bride, captaining a "dark ship, sailing under a black hoist with no device upon it." So fast and furious are the pirates' adventures, so enthralling are the girls' passions (Nancy has promised herself to her childhood sweetheart, while Minerva falls hard for Vincent Crosby, "a handsome young mulatto of about five and twenty with skin the colour of dark honey"), that it's easy to ignore the one-dimensionality of the novel's characters (villains are almost always denoted by a lack of personal hygiene). A playful yet intriguing glimpse of 18th-century life as it was lived by those who were not-or chose not to be-gentlefolk. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Gr 7 Up-Listeners will find oceans of adventure with a feminine twist in Celia Rees's Pirates! (Bloomsbury, 2003). This vividly-recounted, first person tale is told by Nancy Kington, an English heiress who flees to the high seas to avoid a cruel, arranged marriage. She's accompanied by Minerva Sharpe, her mulatto maid turned confidante, and both young women dress and work as men on a pirate ship that is plundering the West Indies in the early 18th century. Encounters with other pirates, British authorities, slave dealers, and mutinous crew members provide plenty of action, and although these women are strong and capable, they don't lose their softer side. They have many loyal shipmates, but Kington continues to seek her lost love and Sharpe finds a new one. Treasures are won and lost, and a set of ruby jewels almost proves their undoing, but in the end each young woman returns to safer shores. When their paths must diverge, they are sustained by powerful bonds of friendship and family. Jennifer Wiltsie narrates with a light British accent that turns from flint to velvet as the story demands. The sturdy case has an intriguing cover, and both case and cassettes are well marked. Sound quality is good with appropriate music opening and closing the book's narration. Listeners who grew up with Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (HarperCollins, 1992) will find this occasionally violent story equally riveting. It is an exciting recording that will attract adventure-loving audiences in middle, high school, and public libraries.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"Enthralling. . . A playful yet intriguing glimpse of 18th-century life as it was lived by those who were not-or chose not to be-gentlefolk."