Devil’s Ballast (Meg Caddy, Text)
After escaping her violently abusive husband, Anne Bonny disguises herself as a boy and joins her lover, pirate captain Calico Jack Rackham, on his ship the Ranger. Anne fits in well on the Ranger: she is mouthy and a fantastic shot, and while she may not be universally loved by the rest of the crew, she at least earns their begrudging respect. Life feels good for Anne until she learns she is pregnant. But before she and Calico Jack can go through with their plan to leave the baby with some friends of his in Cuba, Anne is captured by Barnet, a pirate hunter hired by her abusive husband to bring ‘his property’ back. Devil’s Ballast is a morally murky book. Even though you spend most of the book cheering them on, furiously turning the pages desperate to see them together again, Anne and Calico Jack are not good guys in the story. Nor is Barnet the ‘bad guy’ of the story. Yes, he is hunting down our heroes, but he has good reason to feel burning hatred against their kind. At the same time, he is a brutal, violent captain, as violent as the pirates he chases (though he justifies his violent streak by insisting it’s needed to keep the men in line). Devil’s Ballast is great for readers of action-filled historical fiction aged 14 and up.
Dani Solomon is the assistant manager of Readings Kids