L.A. Meyer,
Curse of the Blue Tattoo
(Harcourt, 2004)

One would never expect the challenges of a respected Boston finishing school to equal the dangers of a life at sea. But Jacky Faber is no ordinary young lady.

Jacky, who survived a childhood on the streets of London and more than a year at sea in the service of the British navy (disguised as a boy), was revealed as a girl at the close of Bloody Jack and left to the tender mercies of Mistress Pimm at the Lawson Peabody School for Young Girls, where she must learn to be a proper lady. Her midshipman's share of HMS Dolphin's prize money stands her in good stead for an education, but her disposition may be unequal to the task.

While used to a life of discipline, Jacky is not accustomed to the many limitations of her sex -- and Boston, circa 1800, has a lot of them. Jacky is free-spirited and direct, gregarious and full of zest. She loves music and dancing, and she enjoys the rough company of a seaside tavern more than the refined air of an afternoon tea. She is neither modest nor circumspect. Fortunately, Jacky is resourceful.

Author L.A. Meyer continues Jacky's story in fine form in this second novel in the series. This novel is very different than its predecessor -- trading a nautical setting for Colonial New England -- but maintains the flavor that made the first book such a joy.

The story even includes a bit of a murder-mystery, which provides intrigue without dominating the plot. The only hitch crops up in the taverns, where Jacky plays and sings; many of the songs and tunes in her repertoire weren't penned 'til long since. My only real complaint is that Jacky is at times too resourceful, excelling at pretty much everything she sets her mind to -- from singing and dancing to acting and painting to horse-racing and ... haunting.

Still, it's hard not to smile at Jacky's unflagging good cheer, the many adventures she stumbles upon and the friends and foes she meets along the way. Meyer again gives readers a wonderful collection of diverse, three-dimensional and believable characters, all of whom it will be your pleasure to know. (Only the mad preacher is a little too broadly drawn.) I only hope Jacky Farber doesn't grow up too quickly -- I'm looking forward to many more adventures before she settles down.

by Tom Knapp
31 December 2005

[ visit the author's website ]

Buy it from Amazon.com.