When Mary Faber’s gang of street orphans runs into problems, Mary decides that it is time to change course—she dresses as a boy and manages to sign on to a Royal Navy ship as one of six new ship’s boys. This first book in the Bloody Jack series follows Mary (now Jacky) through a number of sometimes unlikely, but always entertaining adventures, from getting a Brotherhood tattoo with her fellow ship’s boys in Jamaica to getting carried away by a giant kite and captured by pirates. Along the way, she falls in love (a complicated thing when one is dressed like a boy!), and struggles between the necessity of maintaining her disguise and the wish to escape its limitations.
Bloody Jack, and the rest of the Jacky Faber series (the tenth novel was released this past September) are full of adventure and carefully researched history that thrusts readers into many of the major events of Jacky’s time period. Readers can follow Jacky into the Battle of Waterloo, down the Mississippi river, to a penal colony in Australia—Jacky does have a knack for getting into trouble—even undercover as a spy in France. Although Jacky’s devotion to the love interest introduced in Bloody Jack remains (mostly) steady, the stories remain focused on Jacky’s ability to get herself into and out of predicaments, and on the growing collection of complex and often admirable people she claims as family. The audio books, narrated by Katherine Kellgren, are consistently excellent and add new dimensions to the stories.
Check out the author’s website, where you’ll find all sorts of background material on the novels—maps, songs, even outtakes.
Read about Katherine Kellgren, the award-winning narrator of the Jacky Faber novels here.
Bloody Jack is written by L.A. Meyer, who holds the copyright for the title. It is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.