Molly September

Written by Maggie Secara
Review by Helen Hart

Seventeen-year-old Molly September is the legitimate daughter of a privateer and a lady. Raised in a French convent, she arrives in 17th-century Port Royal, Jamaica, to find that her uncle has arranged a marriage for her with the odious Captain Benning. Determined to escape the future that has been mapped out for her, she runs away to sea with pilot/privateer Dick Prentiss. An adventurous life at sea full of sword fights, pistol shots, and unexpected friendships is soon put at risk when Captain Benning pursues the ship Molly is sailing on.

This novel has the potential to be a rollicking good read, and could appeal to fans of Anne Golon’s “Angelique” and Juliet Benzoni’s “Marianne” series. There are wonderful passages of lush, exquisitely detailed and well-researched description, along with some sparkling, authentic-sounding dialogue. However, self-published books are so often marred by the lack of professional editorial input, and this is where Molly September slightly falls down. Good structural editing is a necessity: the enticing plot promised by the back jacket blurb doesn’t materialise until more than a third of the way through the book and there are too many viewpoint switches, although this does not necessarily worry some readers.

Unfortunately, the typesetting is not consistent (Chapter 7 is left aligned with a ragged right edge, in contrast to the rest of the book which is correctly justified). A rigorous continuity check could have smoothed out other small inconsistencies (for example, Celia suddenly becomes Cecily on page 21).

This promising novel is an example of how self-publishers must work with professional editors, typesetters, and cover designers if they wish to rank alongside mainstream authors.