Longacre [Penguin Random House],
paperback, 303 pages,
A glance at Donovan Bixley’s dramatic cover picture is enough to reveal that in The Pirates and the Nightmaker, James Norcliffe has returned to the fantastic world of The Loblolly Boy (2009) and The Loblolly Boy and the Sorcerer (2011). Yet, this is a prequel, not a sequel.
In 1740 Jeremy is the surgeon’s boy – known, of course, as the loblolly boy - on a British warship. Cast adrift in a small boat in the doldrums, Jeremy is in danger of being eaten by his starving crewmates, but instead is rescued by an enigmatic dark stranger, Mr Wicker, who has the power to change Jeremy into the invisible flying boy of the earlier stories.
Jeremy’s power of flight enables him to guide Wicker and the other survivors to a privateer, the Medusa, captained by the fearsome Jenny Blade. What follows is an exciting pirate adventure, complicated by the fact that nobody can see or hear Jeremy – except Sophie, the Captain’s daughter. This brilliantly written adventure, rich in historical detail, has a delightful surprise in its ending.
This review was first published on 28th March 2015