Phineas (Fin) Button is a tomboy and a fighter. She’s spent all of her 19 rebellious years causing trouble at an orphanage near Savannah, Georgia, in the pre-Revolutionary 1770s. When she develops a close friendship with the onsite cook, Bartimaeus, she learns about his past life of piracy and murder. His protection during a sinister encounter with some British soldiers turns violent and Bartimaeus hangs, while Fin goes on the run, a murderer. She eventually joins a ship’s crew as a deck hand, disguised as a man, and is pulled into in a privateering campaign against the British. Fin continues to get tangled up in Bartimaeus’ old life, including his enemies that seek treasure and revenge.
This is the first of two books.The writing is fantastic. Peterson makes the world you’re immersed in believable and real. While the story is dark and violent, this is still written for older children and/or young adults. Fin’s success at hiding her gender for over a year–especially while holding her own as a fighter among sailors–seemed unlikely to me, but otherwise the story is believable. Here’s a great quote that I paused at:
For that singular second, the men aboard both vessels peered across the gulf at one another, rigid with fear and frozen by memories of home, and of women loved and children born, and of all others they might never see again. And in response they called out of the dark reaches of man’s collective nightmare that beast that stirs and quickens to violence, that savors the taste of the enemy’s throat, the bloodthirst that blinds reason and makes of men a berzerking force of rage with curled lips and bared, animal teeth. Then, like a thunderclap, the ships smashed one upon the other.
The Kindle version is $1.99 on Amazon. I immediately bought the sequel, which is currently at $3.99 on Amazon.