Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer

Title: Bloody Jack
Author: L.A. Meyer
ISBN: 0330418106, Macmillan, 2003
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, #1 in the Jacky Faber series
Rating: B+
Source: Christmas gift from Denis

First Line: My name is Jacky Faber and in London I was born, but, no, I wasn't born with that name.

It's 1797 in London, and little Mary Faber's family has just died of the plague. In order to survive, she takes up with a gang of street urchins, but it's a rough, dangerous life, and Mary hopes for something better. She disguises herself as a boy, changes her name to Jacky and signs on as a ship's boy on the HMS Dolphin. Life at sea is adventure indeed, and Jacky has just the voice to tell us about it all.

I'm not an audio book fan, but I can see the books in this series being perfect for it because Jacky has such a strong, unique voice. The plot moves right along as Jacky gets herself out of one scrape after another. She tells us what it's like the first time a landlubber finds herself on the open sea; she philosophizes about dresses; she deals with peeing standing up; and she voices her opinion on tattoos:

I agree with all my heart, thinking about how I'd have some real explainin' to do if I grow up to be a lady and get married and on my wedding night my husband discovers a naked dancing girl tattooed on my tail. Course, I'd rather not get a tattoo at all.

What makes Jacky so different from so many of the other women-disguised-as-men is that she isn't mannish at all. She makes it quite clear that her disguise is a matter of survival and nothing more. She has dreams of wearing dresses, falling in love, getting married, and having children. Me having had a much more tomboyish outlook for most of my life, I found that the only thing that drove me nuts about Jacky was her tendency to screech and cry whenever she got in trouble. Fortunately it drove the captain mad as well; there was a time or two I was ready to throw 'er overboard!

If you or someone you know is in the mood for something fast-paced and fun that gives a real feeling for the time period, by all means give Bloody Jack a try. Chances are you'll be cheering Jacky on just as much as I did. Now I've got to get out me spyglass and find the rest of the books in this series.


  1. I love it that you wanted to throw her overboard but still want to read more! That alone sold me.

  2. Cathy - Thanks for this. I know just what you mean about wanting through Jacky overboard - how funny! This does sound like a good 'un, though, for all that.

  3. I read the first book in the series and then listened to the second book. I love the reader, she does an excellent job. Just started on book four. Jacky is definitely impulsive!

  4. This former tomboy thinks this sounds like fun too!

  5. I just read this during the read-a-thon and enjoyed it! Just have a hard time continuing on with a series when there are so many books I want to read. :( (queen bee)

  6. I like the girl-disguised-as-a-boy type stories although I haven't read a lot lately. It's a fun idea to think about and to see how or if they succeed.

  7. Beth-- It has to be very tricky for an author to write a character who can be so annoying and yet lovable at the same time!

    Margot K-- It is. Jacky has such a marvelous voice.

    Nise'-- I thought these would be good as audio reads. Thanks!

    Kathy-- Yo ho ho!

    Kim-- My epitaph is going to read: "She started 862 series and only finished 27 of 'em." ;)

    Margot JR-- Yes, it is.

  8. I've become a HUGE fan of the Bloody Jack series, and this is partly (perhaps even largely) because I've listened to them on audio. The audiobook versions are nothing short of FANTASTIC. I listen to audiobooks all the time, and without a doubt the ones in this series are some of THE best I've ever heard. Truly! AND (as an added bonus) the books in the series get more and more entertaining AFTER the first one. So, if you enjoyed Bloody Jack, you will probably really, REALLY enjoy the others.

  9. Alison-- Thanks for the wonderful recommendation!


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