Under the Jolly Roger, by L.A. Meyer (Harcourt, 2005)

Jacky Faber, Scourge of the Seven Seas, is at it again! After leaving the Lawson Peabody School For Young Girls under dubious circumstances (the fire wasn’t entirely her fault), Jacky finds passage across the Atlantic on a whaling ship, as part of her new plan to find the love of her life, Jaimy Fletcher.  Of course, one thing leads to another, and before the two can be properly reunited, Jacky’s kidnapped and pressed into service aboard HMS Wolverine, quite possibly the worst ship in the British fleet.  Her only chance of survival (and of keeping her virtue, such as it, intact) is to be absolutely indispensible, so she begins the near-impossible task of making a proper crew out of the Wolverine’s motley collection of sailors and officers. And when a fortuitous accident befalls the insane, lecherous Captain (again, mostly not Jacky’s fault), “Bloody Jack” takes command of the ship.

Mind you, that’s just the start of her grand scheme.  Because with Jacky Faber and her ever-changing fortune, it’s not long at all before she’s commanding her own privateer, terrorizing the high seas in the name of King and Country (and her own purse).  There’s one thing you can never say about Jacky Faber, and that’s that her life is boring.  Of course, something’s bound to go wrong eventually…

The third book in the Bloody Jack Adventures, Under the Jolly Roger is everything we’ve come to expect from the series.  Action, adventure, high-spirited escapades, and a teenage heroine who continually defies all societal expectations as she charts her own path through the opening years of the 19th Century.  As Jacky matures and grows into her attitude, she takes ever-more amazing risks and leaps of logic as she embraces her dreams in the face of opposition.  And as usual, she’s got a merry band of friends and followers swept up in the sheer madness of it all.

Some authors might have gotten at least two books out of all that’s packed into this one thick volume.  I, for one, am glad Meyer went with this version, as it gives far more story all at once, and that’s never a bad thing when you’re caught up in the spirit of Jacky Faber.  She’s one of the most memorable, complex, and entertaining teenage heroines out there today.  Are her adventures, fraught with danger and riddled with coincidence, unrealistic?  Probably, but that hasn’t stopped my enjoyment of the series one bit.  Fans of Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey, or Anne McCaffrey will undoubtedly enjoy a strong teen female lead cast in a classic mold.  I can’t recommend these books enough.

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