As I wrote in my last post, after two volumes of my favorite author’s dark fairy tales and short stories for adults, I needed a break. Having nothing on my shelves that fit the bill, I hastened to my local public library. Their collection of Tanith Lee is minimal, I must say, and mostly made up of her stories among others in anthologies. They’ve got some stuff that’s new to me, so I selected Piratica: being a daring tale of a singular girl’s adventure upon the high seas. Not only is this a Tanith novel I’d never read, it’s a Tanith genre I’d never read: YA. (Unless The Silver Metal Lover is YA. I don’t think so. Daughter of the Night say it isn‘t. Moving on.)
Piratica tells the story of a girl named Artemesia, called Art, whose mother was a pirate captain famous for her wit, her courage, and the fact that she never killed anyone. Art escapes from the finishing school wherein her father has imprisoned her and sets out to reassemble her mother’s crew and sail for glory. There is swordplay, there is a hunt for fabled treasure, and a little romance as well. Things are not as they seem, but all ends well. Maybe a little too well: Art is sixteen and has spent almost half her life in a finishing school. Yet her skill with a sword rivals Inigo Montoya and “a keener hand at scuttling a Cunarder or cutting out a P & O never shipped a handspike,” if I may borrow a phrase from the Pirate King. This is not a fantasy novel, though it takes place in a parallel world: six of one, half-dozen of the other, I suppose, but there is no obvious magic at work, unless you count the heroine’s skill at the pirate arts.
I took a while to get into it, but read the second half in one day. It was breezy, and fun, but something about it never really got me involved, and it’s not one of my favorites. I doubt I will track down the sequel. I will say, one, that as I am trying to write some pirate stories myself (and will have one published this year, God willing) it did give me some ideas. And two, the male romantic lead is a good-looking man with white hair. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a sucker for white hair. I even made a list about it on Amazon a million years ago.
So that concludes Tanuary. An interesting experiment. I shall probably repeat it next year, though perhaps not as densely. As it is, I did cheat this month with Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung by Nina MacLaughlin. I don’t think Tanith would mind; she’d probably have liked that book quite a bit.