Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1)

Featured
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
2064 0
Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1)
Publisher
Age Range
8+
Release Date
September 10, 2013
ISBN
9780062194343
Buy This Book
      

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.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Good Book Ahoy!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
What I Liked:
After my last middle grade was such a terrible dud, I was a bit afraid to embark into these pirate-laden waters. What if I felt like they'd shivered the timbers of these books unfairly, robbing them of a better life for inferior content? Or stole away my precious time, better spent with other books? Thankfully, Caroline Carlson's pirates aren't such vicious fiends. They're quite honorable, as pirates go anyway, and entirely lovable. Magic Marks the Spot is pretty close to perfect for what I want from a light-hearted middle grade: humorous, populated by lively characters, and promoting the idea that both boys and girls are capable of the same sorts of things.

Before I even got to page one, Magic Marks the Spot had already made me smile and snort. See, before the page numbers even start counting, there are several pages of letters, which set the tone for the rest of the novel. In fact, letters, documents, and snippets of books are woven brilliantly throughout the novel, a technique often used, but rarely done to quite so enjoyable effect.

Hilary Westfield receives a letter congratulating her on her acceptance to the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates' Piracy Apprenticeship Program and telling her that the program will change her from "a wide-eyed and innocent young man." Hilary writes back, informing them of her excitement and correcting them on a factual error: namely, she's a girl. The VNHLP writes back aghast and offended, forwarding her application on to Miss Pimm's Finishing School for Delicate Ladies, much to Hilary's disgust. In her final response to the VNHLP, she closes with this:

"I assure you that I will walk the plank a thousand times, into cold and shark-infested waters, before I will attend Miss Pimm's.

I remain,
Hilary Westfield
Really Quite Furious with You"

From that moment on, I was in love with this book and its characters. Hilary is a fantastically sassy girl who refuses to let anyone, be they parent, headmistress or pirate, tell her what her gender means she can and cannot do. Magic Marks the Spot is so girl-positive and anti-stereotypes. Pirates can be friendly, girls can be pirates, boys can sew without it doing them a lick of harm, governesses can be sassy, and old ladies can be badasses. These are excellent lessons for the intended age group, and are conveyed in a totally non-preachy way.

Though almost everyone she meets tells Hilary she cannot be a pirate because of her gender and social standing, she does not give up. She has a dream and will not let anyone stop her from getting there. Plus, she has a plucky gargoyle sidekick to help cheer her up when times get rough, like when she's forced to attend Mrs. Pimm's, which teaches courses like etiquette and fainting. Gargoyle is so completely precious, with his desire for ear scratches and dream of one day having a pirate hat.

Hilary's governess, introduced as a rather drab, formidable figure, turns out to be wholly delightful as well. As soon as she ceases being Hilary's governess, she's able to open up to Hilary and truly be a friend. Eloise Greyson is a wonderful human being, and I totally support the ship of her with the pirate captain Jasper, Terror of the Southlands. He's basically the most lovable pirate after Captain Shakespeare from Stardust. Oh, and Charlie, his first made is adorably awkward, and I am waiting for some super cute middle grade romance to happen later.

What Left Me Wanting More:
The one aspect that had me side-eyeing the book was how unaffected Hilary is to learn that her father is the bad guy. Yes, he's not been the most supportive parent ever, but she's sad for like five minutes and then is completely unaffected for the rest of the book. Admiral Westfield was not so terrible that a daughter wouldn't struggle to accept his villainy or be tempted to join up with him. Hilary's a strong girl, so I don't doubt that she would make the same choices, but I would have liked to see her feel more in response to what is a completely groundbreaking change for a child.

The Final Verdict:
Magic Marks the Spot kept me grinning and laughing the whole way through. There's situational humor, sarcasm everywhere, and silly puns. Basically, it's perfection for me and other people who have the sense of humor of a ten year old, like, say, actual ten year olds. I see this being a huge hit with the intended audience, but it's a delight for an older reader as well.
Report this review Comments (1) | Was this review helpful to you? 1 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

A Thousand Questions
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Set against the backdrop of Karachi, Pakistan, Saadia Faruqi’s tender...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Second in a new series about a bright and determined...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
There's a chill in the air and frost on the...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Disney’s classic animated films come to life in the latest...
Fence: Striking Distance
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The boys of Kings Row bout with drama, rivalry, and...
Pirate Nell's Tale to Tell
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
From the author/illustrator team behind The Snatchabook comes a book-filled...
The Glass Queen (The Forest of Good and Evil, #2)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Once Upon a Time meets Game of Thrones in...
Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A broken world. An overwhelming evil. A team of...
Finding Balance
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Jase Ellison doesnt remember having acute lymphocytic leukemia when...
Be a Voter!: 450 Stickers for Democracy
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Get out the vote! It’s...
I Believe In You
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A charming picture book that inspires confidence, boosts self-esteem, and...
Breathless
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
From Jennifer Niven, the #1 New York Times bestselling...
Of Thorns and Beauty (Twisted Pages Book 1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
You think you know the tale as old time,...
The Verity
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
When being eaten alive is the least of your...
Meanwhile
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Celebrate 10 years of this completely original graphic novel take...
Grant Beagan: The Finder's Code
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
He’s just an ordinary teenager who likes astronomy, video games,...

Latest Member Reviews

Fence: Striking Distance
 
5.0
"FENCE: STRIKING DISTANCE is a charming YA contemporary fiction that takes place at a boys' boarding school. We follow different..."
Crossing Lines
 
4.3
"Reviewed for YA Books Central And engaging story about how our differences shape our worldview. ..."
Horrid
 
4.7
"After Jane's father sudden dies, Her mother, Ruth, ends up moving them across the country. They move into her mother's..."
The Oracle Code
 
4.0
"THE ORACLE CODE visits Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl and Oracle) in her teens after an accident that paralyzes part of..."
The Glass Queen (The Forest of Good and Evil, #2)
 
5.0
"THE GLASS QUEEN is an intense and fantastically written fairytale retelling of Cinderella. In the kingdom of Enchantia, fairytales are..."
The Kingdom of Back
 
5.0
"Marie Lu’s The Kingdom of Back is an historical fantasy based on real-life talents, Wolfgang Amedeus Motzart and his sister,..."
Meanwhile
 
3.7
"'Meanwhile' by Jason Shiga is a graphic novel adventure that will remind readers of the types of books in which..."
Breathless
 
4.0
"BREATHLESS is a book about change, secrets, and the aftermath. Claudine (Claude) is about to graduate high school, and she..."
Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1)
 
5.0
"SKYHUNTER is an enthralling and lush YA fantasy. Lu really paints the story with her words, and this new novel..."
The Library of Lost Things
 
5.0
"I wasn't sure what to expect with The Library of Lost Things, but I know I didn't anticipate a book..."
Goddess in the Machine (Goddess in the Machine, #1)
 
5.0
"Andra, a teenager from the 2160s, is put into cryogenic stasis fulling expecting to wake up on another planet one..."
Kingdom of Ice and Bone (The Frozen Sun Saga, #2)
 
4.0
"KINGDOM OF ICE AND BONE picks up where the first book left off. Lira and Reyker are separated and each..."
How It All Blew Up
 
5.0
"HOW IT ALL BLEW UP is an absolutely riveting coming-out story. Amir Azadi is an Iranian American who has always..."
Music for Tigers
 
3.7
"A vividly descriptive Middle-Grade work with an ecological focus--enriched by elements of music, friendship, and atypical neurology. When her..."
The Shadow Mission (The Athena Protocol, #2)
 
4.3
"THE SHADOW MISSION is an even better sequel to THE ATHENA PROTOCOL with lots of action and spy-related danger. In..."
Horrid
 
4.3
"HORRID is an intensely creepy story that follows Jane and her mother, Ruth. Jane's father has just died and after..."
Color Outside the Lines
 
4.0
"WHAT I LOVED: The stories vary in genre, time period, and the makeup of the couples, but many of them..."
I'll Be the One (I'll Be the One #1)
 
5.0
"WHAT I LOVED: Haneul "Skye" Shin is talented, fat, and contrary to the max. Her mom tells Skye she..."
Legendborn (Legendborn, #1)
 
5.0
"LEGENDBORN is absolutely thrilling YA fantasy that captivated me from the start. Bree gained early entrance into UNC-Chapel Hill and..."
Blood & Honey
 
5.0
"This is going to be a hard review to write because I have so many words that want to come..."