Sunday, October 27, 2013

Book Review: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Humor, story, characters, and pirates
Cons: You not buying this book immediate (cause I’ll have to send pirates after you)
The Bottom Line:
Engaging story
And many great characters
Mixed well with humor

Magic, Pirates, and a Gargoyle

I will follow a good story no matter who the target audience is, and that’s led me to some wonderful series intended for middle grade audiences.  If nothing else, I love the creativity and twists on the familiar they show.  Take Magic Marks the Spot, the first in the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series.  It’s got pirates, magic, and laughs a plenty.

All Hilary has dreamed about is being a pirate, and she is determined that’s what she will be when she grows up.  However, there are two problems standing in her way.  First, she’s a girl, and there is no way the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates will allow a female to join.  Second, she is the daughter of the Royal Admiral, the man who has made it his mission to end piracy.

When she is sent to Miss Pimm’s Finishing School for Delicate Ladies, she is determined to run away and become a pirate.  Joined by the family’s magically alive gargoyle, she sets out to find a ship to sail on.  But when she is placed in charge of finding the treasure with a map that has no clues, can she do it?

Before each chapter there are letters between characters or excerpts from newspapers and guide books.  When I was reading the ones before chapter 1, I was already laughing.  While I found these between chapter things to be the funniest parts of the books, there were plenty of lines and observations in the story that made me laugh out loud.  Yes, sometimes in public.  And no, this grown man had no shame in laughing at a middle grade book in public.  While the focus was on the adventure, there was also that humorous tone lurking just beneath the surface ready to strike.

And this is quite the adventure tale.  The set up might be a bit slow, but I was entertained the entire way.  Once the story really gets rolling, you’ll be glued to the pages as you wait to see just how Hilary can overcome the latest twist.

The characters are fun as well.  They are well developed for a middle grade novel, and I truly came to care for most of them.  The rest were either evil or weren’t around long enough to be developed.  There is room for growth in the next few novels, but there’s really nothing to complain about here.

I fairly sailed through the book.  (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.)  It was hard to put down when real life called, and I picked it back up as soon as I could.

Obviously, this book will appeal to girls who want some adventure in their books.  However, any boy who is willing to overlook having a girl as the main character will completely enjoy this one.  Hilary is very much a tomboy, and the book is filled with all the staples of a pirate story only toned down for the target audience.

Honestly, I can’t recommend Magic Marks the Spot highly enough.  I’ll be first in line when the sequel comes out to find out what happens to Hilary and her friends next.

NOTE: I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine program

Want a couple of teasers?  I've got two non-spoilery quotes here.  And this review is part of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.


  1. Sounds like a great premise and one that will be added to my list of future books to read. Great cover design, too.

    1. The premise is good and the execution is perfect. You're right that the cover is pretty great, too.