Book Title: The Ship of Shadows (available here)
Author: Maria Kuzniar
Illustrator: Sophia Watts
Publication Date: July 2020
Most Suitable for: Years 4-6
Reviewer: David McBride
Young Aleja longs for an adventure; something that ‘nice, young girls’ shouldn’t go chasing after yet, deep down, she knows that a different life awaits her. On the arrival of a mysterious Ship of Shadows into Spanish Sevilla’s harbour, Aleja is spurred on by her desire to see the legendary vessel first-hand. Trouble is not far away and, assisted by a stranger, her path is set as she finds herself on board the famous ship crewed by a band of ruthless pirates. Once on board, she discovers that it is not only the women that have secrets but the ship, too, as its magic is gradually revealed. The boat sets sail and Aleja leaves her family behind but will this be the life full of adventure and excitement she longs for?
As Aleja is drawn into the life on the ship, she must prove herself worthy to remain and it is not long before she is tested. Friendships are made and, ultimately, Aleja must choose between her longing for a life not yet lived and her family.
This is a compelling read; it’s a real page turner and will appeal to those that love adventure stories that hint of times past as we travel the high seas and traverse the desert with Aleja. Our heroine is full of curiosity and spirit and we revel in her thirst for knowledge, wanting to explore with her. The places she visits are full of noise and colour and excitement, all the while with a sense that danger is everywhere. As the story draws to a close, there are hints of further adventures and, if The Ship of Shadows is anything to go by, then readers will be eager to continue the quest along with the charismatic crew.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to our Review Panel member for reviewing it.
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