Sixteen-year-old Jill has devoted years of her life to fencing, but a tournament defeat leaves her doubting her future in the sport. Trying to forget her troubles on a family vacation in the Bahamas, she finds a piece of an antique blade on the beach. A seemingly chance accident follows, and Jill is catapulted back in time to the golden age of piracy and the crew of pirate queen Marjory Cooper. Forced to sign on as a crew member, she is drawn into Cooper’s deadly pursuit of the man who still possesses the rest of the blade he forged in dark magic – and who is in turn searching for the piece he has summoned back to his time.
Using a time-traveling heroine is an effective way to demonstrate to teens the difference between the romance and the reality of history, as well as to introduce the reader to details of life on an 18th-century ship. Vaughn also does a good job of holding the action, romance, and magic in balance; there’s something for everyone in this novel. Her breezy (dare I say “swashbuckling”?) style leads to the occasional stretch of credibility, but since the book is part fantasy, I suppose she can be forgiven. I would agree with my daughter’s assessment that this is a good crossover novel for girls who might not otherwise choose historical fiction.