The Moneylender’s Daughter
1637. In this second book in the Windjammer series, the Draco, carrying sixteen-year-old Adam Windjammer, is sailing up the American coast towards Cape Fear. Some of the crew are after treasure, for the Spanish ‘Silver Fleet’ will pass Cape Fear, laden with booty from Latin America. Adam, however, is looking for the wreck of his uncle’s ship and hoping to find survivors. When the Draco’s longboat lands him and some of the crew ashore, he finds more than he bargained for. Not only is there danger and betrayal ashore, there is also a spy aboard the Draco, a man in the pay of Adam’s enemy, the moneylender Van Helsen. If Van Helsen can gain control of the Draco, he will ruin the house of Windjammer.
The second strand in the book concerns Jade, Van Helsen’s daughter. Van Helsen despises daughters; Jade is only useful to forge a marriage alliance with a rich, old goldsmith. Appalled at the prospect, Jade runs away. But how can a female survive on her own in the cut-throat, men only, business world of Amsterdam? There will be testing times ahead for Jade.
I found it difficult, at the beginning, to work out who was who and what was going on; the book would have benefited from an introductory summary of book 1. Chapter 1 was particularly confusing as it seemed to bear little relationship to either of the two strands. If I hadn’t been reviewing the book, I might well have given up. Fortunately, by Chapter 4, things improved and the rest of the book was an action-packed, rip-roaring read. Richardson is good at illuminating the turbulent world of the 1630s, a time of ruthless colonial expansion and unprecedented business opportunities, both in America and in Amsterdam.
For boys and girls, 10-13 years.
The cover of this book intrigued me – it looked mysterious and not at all boring. The first chapter was all about sailing. I gave it a go but it lost my interest almost immediately – I didn’t understand it. There was no background information, and I got very confused.
After a couple of chapters the scene changed. The book wasn’t talking about boats any more – it was about bankers and merchants. It grabbed my attention and I could barely put it down. The vocabulary was great. I got a real feel for the characters and background.
I was disappointed when it changed back to sailing and the storyline bored me. Then the plot changed again – and I got really involved. The ending was my favourite bit. It had excitement and fun. I think you need to have read the previous book to understand this one. The plot was very dry in certain places and so drawn out in the sailing bits that nothing happened for a very long time, but towards the end it was fantastic.
This wasn’t my favourite book in the world and I would only give it 6 out of 10.
Rachel Beggs, aged 11