Title: Voyage of the Sea Wolf
Author: Eve Bunting
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
May Contain Spoilers
At the end of The Pirate Captain’s Daughter, Catherine and cabin boy William are marooned on Pox Island by the murderous crew of the pirate ship Reprisal. The young lovers see no hope of escape.
In Voyage of the Sea Wolf, the continuing saga of Catherine’s sea adventures, she and William are rescued from their island prison by the Sea Wolf, a pirate ship pursuing the Reprisal. Catherine worries that these new pirates will send her back to the island once they discover she’s a girl. But then, she meets the captain of the Sea Wolf. A woman! Surely, Catherine thinks, the bloodshed and brutality she and William experienced aboard the Reprisal can’t happen again, especially under the leadership of a female captain.
But just as things seem to be going their way, the captain takes a liking to William. Catherine is forbidden to see him.
If Catherine and William want to stay together, they must find a way to now escape from the Sea Wolf.
After enjoying The Pirate Captain’s Daughter so much, I was hyped to start reading The Voyage of the Sea Wolf. Ultimately I was disappointed, as the characters all displayed a shocking lack of common sense, especially Catherine, who was so resourceful in the last book. I guess watching your father murdered and then being dumped on a deserted island would be cause to completely lose your marbles, but I was really hoping for better from our plucky heroine. Her near death experience left her incapable of making one commendable decision until the very end of the book. The ending is another disappointment. Without giving out too many spoilers, William and Catherine are left in pretty much the same situation as the prior book. Ugh!
When the young lovers are rescued, saved from the brink of death, they have new challenges to face. They’ve been rescued by another pirate ship, this one captained by a fierce woman who imagines herself to be like her namesake, Medb, the daughter of the High King of Ireland and a brutally calculating warrior who took what she wanted, when she wanted it. Like her namesake, Medb is cold and cruel, and when she sees William, she wants him. I found this storyline wearying. She is significantly older than William, yet for Medb, it is lust at first sight. She will have him, because he reminds her of her lost love. She will possess him, for no other reason than this uncanny resemblance to a man she drove away years before. This made no sense to me, regardless of how handsome William was. He was but a boy to her, and the attraction creeped me out. Considering that Medb is a bloodthirsty, possibly psychotic pirate, this shouldn’t have turned me off like it did, but I couldn’t get beyond how gross is was to me.
To egg her on, William is disrespectful and defiant. Medb, her heart lost to William, took all of her anger out on Catherine. This is another plot point that drove me nuts. Catherine knew that Medb was just looking for any excuse to get rid of her so she could have William all to herself, yet she purposefully does stupid things to piss the pirate captain off. Let’s stop for just one second and think about the pirates in Eve Bunting’s novels. These are not Disney pirates, with yummy tats and weird things woven into their sleek braids. These are pirate pirates, the kind who make a living plundering other ships and murdering innocent people. They steal stuff, they shoot people, and they live by a code that demands obedience and loyalty to their ship and their captain. Both William and Catherine have close, intimate knowledge about how things work on a pirate ship. They witnessed murder first hand, and experienced pirate punishment. They suffered pain and almost died because they pissed off another ship full of pirates and decided to not follow the rules. Did they learn anything from that experience Nope!
While these plot elements did bug me, there were aspects of the book that I did enjoy. The battle scenes were tense and exciting, and the details of daily life on a ship was fascinating. While I found the supernatural elements ridiculous at times, Medb’s fear of witches and evil magic made perfect sense given how precarious life on a little ship in the middle of a very large and dangerous ocean could be. One run of bad luck could spell doom for everyone aboard, and Medb took omens very seriously. Until the time she didn’t and greed won out over her fear, spelling disaster for everyone. I didn’t understand that, either. She was a seasoned leader, in addition to being extremely superstitious. It was against her character to disregard every single evil portent and to continue with her plans to launch an attack against another ship.
While this book didn’t totally work for me, I am still curious to follow Catherine and William as they try to make their way home. I just hope that they learned something this time, so that they don’t vex me as much when we meet again.
Review copy provided by publisher