Author: Natalie C. Parker
Rating: 4 Stars
Dates read: 01 Jan 19 – 03 Jan 19
Publication date: 28 Aug 2018
Genre(s): YA, Fantasy
A warlord killed Caledonia’s parents and kidnapped her brother. Now, on the deadly Bullet seas, Captain Caledonia Styx and her all-female crew are ready for revenge.
After her family is killed by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas. She captains her ship, the Mors Navis, with a crew of girls and women just like her, who have lost their families and homes because of Aric and his men. The crew has one mission: stay alive, and take down Aric’s armed and armored fleet.
But when Caledonia’s best friend and second-in-command barely survives an attack thanks to help from a Bullet looking to defect, Caledonia finds herself questioning whether to let him join their crew. Is this boy the key to taking down Aric Athair once and for all…or will he threaten everything the women of the Mors Navis have worked for?
There is a beauty and raw power that is found in a story based around friendships, shared hardship, and quests for revenge. Throw piracy into the mix, and, well, you have Seafire.
The book opens with a chilling act of malice, where the protagonist is off her ship with a friend. Their entire families are back aboard the notorious vessel The Ghost, and when separated from her friend, she is caught foraging by an enemy ‘Bullet’ and stabbed. He wheedles the location of the ship from her and then leaves her and her friend to watch their ship burn and their friends wrestled into submission and taken as captives. It’s an explosive opening and the fuel for the rest of the story.
The ship itself was rescued, and became the Mors Navis, and this ship is featured throughout, almost a character in itself. The protagonist has nurtured and rebuilt The Ghost into her own vessel and so it’s characteristics, benefits, and faults are mentioned and utilised in much the same way as a human character’s would be. The book is laced with pirate themes, so the ship provides a constant haven for the characters and a strong sense of place for the reader as the story unfolds.
The Captain – Caledonia Styx – is charismatic and pragmatic. She thinks before making decisions, she plans her course and her raids with extreme diligence and caution, and puts the safety and comfort of her crew as her main priority. She does, however, retain a level of trust between them that runs both ways, and even though their faith in her is somewhat tested as the plot unravels, there is no doubting that they believe in the abilities of one another. She has assembled a crew of misfit women from all backgrounds, pulling together a sisterhood-like crew of different characters, backgrounds, and abilities that give her an unmistakeable edge. It is their individual characteristics, and sometimes their losses, that change the course of Caledonia’s thoughts and influences the plans later in the story, changing her mindset and those of the crew around her and letting battles happen at the end of the novel unfold that otherwise would not have occurred.
Her relationship with her second in command and the friend she was with when their families were taken is the most interesting and complex one of all. Pisces is strong and fierce and has unparalleled abilities under the water which makes her a mental and physical asset of Caledonia. She questions her captain’s decisions in order to strengthen her plans, and she is the natural follower to Caledonia’s leader. Their friendship is solid from the outset, but as the story develops and new characters are introduced, the lies that have been hidden under their relationship and the new ‘Bullet’ on board begins to drive a wedge between the powerful pair. Their friendship is ultimately redeemed to full capacity when secrets long held are exposed and family ties are reintroduced, and this is one of the things I like most about the story. The boy does not come between the girl, he may threaten their relationship, but ultimately their relationship withstands and strengthens because of it.
The ‘Bullet’ himself is the most interesting character of all. The ‘Bullets’ are the enemy, simply put, and are the name of the forces that fall under the control of Aric Athair. They’re controlled by silt, a substance that is addictive and controlling in equal measures. The ‘Bullet’ in questions saves Pisces’ life and she feels a debt of gratitude towards him, once that Caledonia cannot abide after the incident on the island that opened the book. She begins to trust him to an extent, and realises that once rid of the substance he has qualities and skills that are both lucrative and desirable to her, and ultimately the knowledge he gives them and the realisation that there are people underneath the silt control that they can release is too powerful to resist.
I enjoyed it immensely. I’ve read pirate stories in abundance recently, and it featured both regularly seen tropes and new power that I haven’t seen before. I like the characters, I believe in their plight and their power, and even though some of the relationships become predictable, they weave a great story. I can’t wait to read the next instalment in this series full of feminine power and piracy.