Do you ever find a series of books that is so good that you ration yourself to make them last? That’s what’s happened to me with Helen Hollick’s excellent Sea Witch series. Knowing that she’s just published the fifth book (On the Account), as well as the fourth a while ago (Ripples in the Sand), encouraged me to move book three to the top of my to-read pile, and I’m rather hoping she’s now writing book six…
The Sea Witch is the ship of pirate hero Captain Jesemiah Acorne, and “bring it close” is the old word for a telescope (who knew?)
Continuing Pirate Adventures
Like the first two in the series, this book provides fun, escapist reading, filled with action and adventure, and populated by three-dimensional characters. Each of the key characters becomes more and more interesting and convincing with every book, their back stories unfolding as the series progresses. The hero, Jesemiah Acorne, is the epitome of the lovable rogue, a classic swashbuckling pirate with a heart of gold and a passionate devotion to for heroine Tiola Oldstagh – anagram of “all that is good”.
Satisfying Blend of Fact and Fantasy
In this book, his chief adversary is the horrific villain Blackbeard, real name (because he was a real person) Edward Teach. I love the way Helen Hollick combines historical fact with intriguing fantasy, including mythical sea legends and Cornish tradition, the latter introduced via the delightful and spirited heroine Tiola Oldstagh, who must keep her magical powers hidden to avoid being burnt as a witch.
I also really enjoyed learning, without feeling like I was having a history lesson, about life in Colonial America, seeing settlers build new towns and communities – at least as far as they can when madmen like Blackbeard still hobnob with those in authority, making life for the law-abiding horrifically perilous.
Heart of Gold, Will of Iron, Stomach of Steel
Jesemiah may be merciful and compassionate to underdogs, but Helen Hollick keeps it real by making him also comply with the expected moral code of the pirate of his day. He continues to wield guns and knives to save himself and his beloved ship, and he falls easily into bed with other women than the love of his life,
Not for the Fainthearted
Anyone picking up a book about pirates should not be surprised at a bit of violence. There are moments of chilling violence in this book, but they are essential to the story and there for historical accuracy rather than being gratuitous. As someone who is very sensitive and suggestible to such things, I’m still happy to keep reading and just grit my teeth at those passages, and I’ve avoided any nightmares so far. I realise it is important to keep the story grounded and balanced with indications of the lawlessness and danger of the times. Captain Pugwash it ain’t!
Bring It On!
All of Helen’s books are available to order from your favourite local bookshop or online. Just quote the title, author and, if possible, ISBN, which you can find on her website. Here’s the ISBN for Bring It Close: 978-1906236625. The paperback is currently £10.99 and the ebook £3.99. Perfect holiday reading!
For more about Helen Hollick, who also writes straight history set in Arthurian times, visit her website: www.helenhollick.net