This young adult fantasy focuses on Caroline (“Caro”) Oresteia, a wherryman’s daughter who wants to be a wherry pilot one day herself. Eight generations of Oresteias have been pilots favored by the river god, but to Caro’s dismay, she has not yet heard the call of this god. Her pa was fifteen when the river god first whispered to him; Caro is 17, and is yet to hear anything. Nevertheless, she joins her pa on his voyages and learns everything she can.
As the story begins, Caro and her dad have bigger problems than usual. The port of Hespera’s Watch has been set on fire by the “Black Dog” pirates and eleven wherries were sunk. They stop there to help, and, having the only operational wherry, are charged with delivering some important cargo in a locked crate to the city of Valonikos. The crate is what the pirates were after, so Caro’s father refuses to do it because it is too dangerous. He is imprisoned, and Caro impulsively volunteers to do it herself if they will agree to release her father when she returns.
Once underway, Caro opens the mysterious crate only to find a boy inside around Caro’s age. She later discovers he is actually the new Emparch of Akhaia because of the assassination of his father. Moreover, now that he is awake, he imperiously insists they must go to Casteria, not Valonikos. It turns out his only remaining family member, his 8-year-old little sister Daria, is there. He wants to rescue her before the Black Dog Pirates get to her and kill her.
The rest of the book follows their adventures as they try to hide from and outrun the Black Dogs. In the process, their relationship changes, in a way that of course you knew it would.
Eventually, Caro finds out where she really belongs in life, and what her destiny will be.
Discussion: Caro is a fearless female who serves as a great role model for young girls. She declares that she isn’t meant just for marriage and parties: “I have more important things to do. . . . I’m going to be a captain and privateer. I’m going to be the terror of the seas.” Yet this book is not without romance.
Evaluation: A pirate novel series with danger and chase scenes that features a female protagonist as the “star”? Yes! Can’t wait for a follow-up.
Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2017