Fire on Dark Water

Written by Wendy K. Perriman
Review by Kathryn Johnson

Pirates, it seems, are in! The latest Pirates of the Caribbean film has just been released, a Pirates & Wenches festival has sprung up near where I live and appears to have become an annual event each summer, and now we have a new novel that’s steeped in pirate-dom: Fire on Dark Water. Maybe we love pirates, despite their violent, lusting, lawless ways, because they touch a chord of romanticism in us. Who doesn’t wish to leave behind the boredom of civilization for an unfettered life at sea? And if we find hidden treasure or a new love along the way – more’s the better!

In Perriman’s debut novel, we meet Lola Blaise, gypsy by birth, despised by the civilized world. She is forced into prostitution to survive. How could life possibly get harder for her? Well, she could run into the infamous Anne Bonny and Blackbeard. Lola relates the story of how she met and lived among these infamous pirates to an unnamed listener in the “dingy light of the tavern.”

Perriman’s tale is most effective when she attacks the tale with fully realized scenes, showing her fictional heroine interacting with the historical characters. These episodes spring to life on the page, and suddenly we’re on the ship with her. Other portions of the story slip into lengthy narration that is less imaginative but no less interesting. The author’s grasp of setting and period is well supported by research. Lola feels quite believable, and although she isn’t your typical virtuous heroine, she shines in comparison to the rogues who surround her. This is a unique and appealing debut – a daydreamy beach read or adventure to curl up with on a rainy afternoon.