The Ship of Shadows – Maria Kuzniar
There’s a lot of originality and fun in this book and I like that it’s girls and women on a magical ship.
We find out about that they’re seeking a magic map. It’s not for treasure; they land on a treasure island in one chapter, stuff their pockets and everything else with diamonds, rubies, and so on, and then that’s never mentioned again. It’s not to find a magical city – they find the city (and are attacked by an army of skeletons, so be wary of that if your child isn’t a fan of the more “horror” end of things, like the film The Mummy) – but they’re only looking for the city to get a piece of the map. Also the shadows on the ship – we’re told the shadows are the secret to the ship’s magic, but that wasn’t enough to get me fully emotionally involved in it.
Aleja is an inquisitive, intelligent, and brave girl, but doesn’t seem that bothered about leaving her family. Even at the end, she’s still in the same place emotionally – trying to decide between having adventures and going home. What she wants is to have an adventure and become a pirate and she does.
The diversity of the characters is a plus and the writing enjoyable, with vivid imagery. Different things happen – magic rooms appear in the ship, a kraken attacks, there’s a trip to a souk, not to mention the treasure island – but overall the events don’t totally knit together.
I see other reviewers enjoyed it more than I did, so perhaps I’m missing something. For me though there’s more glitter than gold in this pirate adventure.
The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar
Published by Puffin Books in July 2020
Middle Grade (9-12 years old)