Check out what I thought of BLACKHEARTS, a YA Debut by Nicole Castroman. Spoiler alert: I LOVED IT.
Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.
Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.
Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?
From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
Thanks to Edelweiss and S&S for granting me an e-arc!
OH. MY. GOSH. This book. It’s amazing. It’s phenomenal. I died.
Okay, let me try to be coherent. First, this is NOT a pirate book. This is a book about two people who want their freedom, who want to escape, and just happen to think they can achieve that dream via the sea. If you are expecting a pirate novel, STOP right now. Instead prepare for a beautifully drawn novel that feels like it was written in the Victorian Era. Even though Blackbeard’s time was the late 1600s to 1700s and the Victorian era was 100 years later in the 1800s, this book had that Victorian feel. The writing is so reminiscent of classic literature I felt like I was back in my Early Victorian Novels class (which is a good thing–I LOVED that class).
Honestly, the writing style did wonders for the world building. I was so totally hooked from the very beginning. I started reading at like 1am because I couldn’t sleep and the mood struck, and then 3 chapters flew by and I didn’t want to stop, but knew I had to to sleep. Then I ended up going out of town the following day and couldn’t bring my tablet, but I was thinking about this book, wanting to come back. From the moment you start, you will not want to stop, so don’t be an idiot like me and start it when you won’t have time to keep going.
We’ve tackled epic world building and pacing, and now let’s do characters. The supporting characters are all fully drawn, but Anne and Teach! My precious babies! Like everyone in a classic novel ever, they were obsessed with Milton and Paradise Lost. I loved this touch for reasons I can’t work out, but it just amused me (I seriously felt like I was back in class–I’m going to email my professor about this book, I swear). Their relationship developed so wonderfully. I shipped it hard. Teach shipped it hard. I mean, he nicknamed Anne Queen Anne! He worshipped her. It was beautiful.
Anne was a fantastic strong willed character. And she likes pockets and had them sewn into all her dresses! She held true to her ideals and knew how society viewed her and struggled with being fearless, as a result. But she truly was, in every sense of the word, pretty fearless, in my opinion. She was kind, too, and intelligent. However, she had a bit of pirate in her. Anne was so multi-layered and complex and incredibly real. She’s one of my favorite heroines.
Teach was like a hurricane. I don’t even know, okay. He barreled into this book and had a lot of feels. He gave me a lot of feels. He gave everyone a lot of feels.
I am in love with this book.
I am also in love with this cover. A ship in a bottle is never mentioned in the book, but once you’ve finished reading it makes total sense and has wonderful symbolism. The ship is the freedom Anne and Teach both want, but they can’t have it. It’s bottled up and put on display. It’s just out of reach. It’s a decoration, not meant for them to truly have, but to admire.
This review is longer than they usually are because I honestly just adored this book so much. I was so excited for it and it totally delivered. It was more than I thought it would be. Blackhearts was an epic read that reminded me of Jane Eyre and other Victorian novels. Strong characters, an amazing imaginative story, and gripping pacing make this a MUST READ.
Still. Not. Okay. It’s so beautiful but now I only feel PAIN!
I HAVE SO MANY BUT I DON’T KNOW WHICH ONES TO SHARE. Let’s go with these (but remember they’re from an ARC and may not be totally accurate):
Some funnies: “Oh, what do you propose we do? Are we going to break into someone’s vault? Or do you prefer something less dramatic, like stealing their sheep?”
Henry had said he would make her pay if he heard she’d caused any problems for Master Drummond. Hitting the master’s son between the legs with a pail was certainly problematic.
Some badass Anne moments: “Perhaps you are too used to people bowing to your believed superiority, and don’t understand when your presence is not desired.”
“I do not mean to sound ungrateful, but I’m tired of others directing my life. I’m ready to take charge of it and see where my choices lead me.”
Some shipping feels: They could be on opposite sides of the world, but she would always be his, and he would always be hers.
ANNE FOREVER AND ALWAYS, MY QUEEN ANNE.
PLAYLIST TIME! 🙂
I had to do something extra special for this book cause I’m currently nursing a killer book hangover! It amazed me how many One Direction songs totally fit Anne and Teach, so I made a crack!Blackhearts playlist! This is totally just meant for fun.
- Ready to Run: Ummm, this is SO them. Anne and Teach BOTH want to get away–they’re ready to run–and they totally want to each other by their side.
- Strong: Anne is an orphan and Teach and his dad have a tough relationship, but the love they have for each other makes them stronger and they embrace it.
- Girl Almighty: Hello, Anne, my girl almighty. “Some say she’s a fake…” this will make sense once you hit the end of the book. #Ow. But “there’s something happening here, I hope you feel it too” is basically Teach’s line of thought the entire book and he asks her something similar eventually.
- One Thing: Anne has that one thing!
- Perfect: Anne and Teach are totally perfect for each other (they both like having secret little rendezvous, going places they can’t even pronounce, and doing whatever they’ve been dreaming about), and they know it. The lyrics are so beautiful because it’s about a love that can’t last forever and you know Anne/Teach are not destined to live happily ever after. Spoiler alert: Blackbeard. This. Song. Is. Them.
- Happily: Teach does not care what Anne being mixed race means in their stuffy racist society (“I don’t care what people say when we’re together”). He just wants to be with her happily 🙂 You can reverse the relationship the girl in the song is in here and apply it to Teach/Patience.
- Through The Dark: I might cry. I might actually cry.
- The Black Pearl: Okay, not a 1D song, but a great way to end this mix! 🙂