Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
Published by Simon Pulse on February 9, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 384– hardcover & ebook
Format Read: ARC
Rating: 3.5 stars [rounded to 4]
Source: Simon and Schuster
Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.
Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.
Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?
From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
Thanks to SimonTeen for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views.
Okay, first of all, what was that ending? I’m so sad, but I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, considering how Blackbeard’s story tragically ended in real life. I’m kind of conflicted about this book — it was more about his backstory and romance rather than the action and piracy. Though I doubt it’ll happen, maybe we could have a sequel about his journey, including the conquests and actual pirate action? I’d totally read it.
Anyway, the first thing that I really liked about this book was the characters. Especially Anne. She was the perfect protagonist! Sharp-witted, smart, and fierce, she was basically everything I wanted to see in a character. I never found her to be frustrating or petty, unlike some other book protagonists. Teach, however, was someone I didn’t like at the beginning — which was kind of the point. His advances toward Anne at the beginning were creepy, to say the least, and his attitude made me want to punch him. However, as the story progresses we really get to see him develop and start to care for him.
As I said above, if you were looking for a bloody pirate story with tons of action then this probably isn’t for you. However, the upside to this is that this was a very character-driven book. Not only does it explore Teach and Anne’s relationship with each other, but it also dives into their individuality. They were dimensional and I loved how Anne’s and Teach’s separate characters were depicted. They came from completely different backgrounds, yet they still had the same goal — freedom. The way their relationship progressed was amazing; the tension kept me reading and their dynamic was entertaining! The banter between them and Anne’s witty lines made me laugh out loud.
The book did a great job in portraying the sexism, racism, and classism present during that time period. The atmosphere was also amazing, allowing me to easily immerse myself into the setting. Excellent world building!
All in all, this was a sweet, character-driven book showing the softer and more romantic side of Blackbeard (before he became Blackbeard) rather than the scary, legendary part we know of Blackbeard today. There were a few gaps and plot holes, but it was pretty satisfying overall. I’m familiar with the Blackbeard legend and I think the book sure did get its facts straight, thankfully. The relationships, characters, and atmosphere were portrayed really well, too. This was my first pirate book so I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I’m definitely going to be reading more pirate books in the near future. I’d recommend this as a fast read, for sure!
Rating: 4 fish