Review: Destiny’s Hand

Destiny’s Hand
Written by Nunzio DeFillipis and Christina Weir
Illustrated by Melvin Calingo
Seven Seas, $10.99

If you liked Pirates of the Caribbean, then Destiny’s Hand is the book for you, mate.

Seven Seas’ latest entry in the pirates category is done in the same spirit as the hit movie and has many of the same basic elements: feisty heroine, crafty pirate captain, plenty of action, and a light tone. And there’s magic, too. Captain Blaine and his pirate crew, who sail on the mysteriously unsinkable ship Destiny’s Hand, are gentleman pirates. They steal ship’s cargoes, but Blaine won’t injure innocent citizens or crews who surrender. In fact, after looting a ship, the pirates escort it to safety and even tell their captives pirate stories to while away the time.

The heroine and main character is one Olivia Soldana, the daughter of a greedy shipping magnate (is there any other kind?). As the book opens, 13-year-old Olivia is on her way to an arranged marriage, but fate intervenes when Captain Blaine and his pirates attack her ship. Her father, a venal sort, tells his captain to lower the flag and then fires on the pirate ship when it draws near. But Destiny’s Hand is unsinkable, and firing on the pirates just makes them mad. Captain Blaine is about to put Olivia’s father to the sword when she intervenes, duels the meanest, ugliest pirate of them all to spare her father’s life, and joins the pirate crew.

The book moves briskly through a series of battles and plot expositions that send our characters off on a quest for a mysterious prize. DeFillipis and Weir have mined the best parts of the pirate tradition for this story, but the book doesn’t feel stereotyped; rather, as in Pirates of the Caribbean, it tips a hat to the traditional tales and moves on into uncharted seas. Captain Blaine may go to the same hairstylist as Captain Jack Sparrow, but he’s a more solid and sympathetic character. Another sailor, Badru, turns the stereotype of the Caribbean native on its head; he’s as smart as the rest of them put together, but he’s willing to pass as a manservant if that suits his purposes. Only Olivia is predictable in her rebelliousness and her devotion to her father figure, Captain Blaine. But her character is fun to watch anyway.

Destiny’s Hand is Pirates Lite, a good summer read that never lets the bloody reality of historical pirates spoil the fun. It’s rated for teens, but I would happily give it to a younger child. For older readers, it offers enough plot and action that the pages will seem to turn by themselves.

(This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher.)

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