The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar
on July 16 2020
Aleja whiles away her days in her family's dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she's only ever read about in books. After all, she's always being told that girls can't be explorers.
But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.
Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja's strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates - and discover what they are risking everything to find.
It’s the last day of the book tour for The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar. Thank you to the publisher Puffin Books, The Write Reads, and NetGalley for the copy. As always, my reviews are my honest opinions about the book, regardless of how I got the copy.
It’s been so long since I read a book about seafaring. For good reason too, it’s not a topic I enjoy very much. But when you combine it with a crew of female pirates, I’m willing to make an exception. And I’m glad I did. The Ship of Shadows is an extremely enjoyable MG fantasy following Aleja on her first adventure with the crew of the legendary ship. She’s a Spanish girl, misunderstood by everyone around her, and she feels immediately at home on the ship. Adventure had always been a dream, and now it’s coming true.
I really liked the characters of the crew. All with their own stories, personalities, and interests. Two of them are Dutch: Griete and Ermtgen. As a Dutchie myself, they piqued my interest. Griete was very obvious to me, although I’d say her name is more Frisian than Dutch. Ermtgen wasn’t a name I was familiar with, especially not as a Dutch name. A quick Google search revealed there were at least two women in the 1630s with such a name. And I’m really curious if the griddle cakes Ermtgen makes at the beginning of Aleja’s adventure are really poffertjes. That would make sense.
The story and the world itself is perfectly crafted, even though some bits were predictable. I won’t deduct points for it since it’s an MG book and I’m a seasoned reader. Sometimes it’s okay to be obvious. I really loved the lore of Thomas James. The way Kuzniar presented it made me want to find out more about him and his adventures. I hope she’ll tell us more in the next books. It wasn’t hard to keep reading since every page had more action or mystery to solve. The only downside maybe is the ending. The book ends before they return to Seville and Aleja hasn’t made her decision to stay or go. It’s a huge unsolved plot point and I didn’t get the closure I needed/wanted.
I give The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar four stars. I’d definitely recommend it to adventurous young ladies like my niece. I think she would like this one a lot, although she doesn’t read English. Let’s hope it’ll get picked up for translation soon so more kids can enjoy Kuzniar’s wonderful stories.