Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Rousing Pirate Tale: A Review of P. S. Bartlett’s Demons & Pearls

(available through Amazon in paperback and for Kindle), ISBN: 978-1511572552
By Joey Madia
About 18 months ago, I reviewed P. S. Bartlett’s Fireflies, which I touted as a “novel that tells, simply and elegantly, the story of a family’s love.” Although family love is a strong undercurrent in her latest offering (the second book in the “Razor’s Adventures” series), Demons & Pearls is a much different read, taking as its subject matter the high-adventure world of pirates in the 1700s.
            Pirates are immensely popular these days, with the success of Black Sails on Starz, last year’s take on Edward “Blackbeard” Teach  by NBC, called Crossbones starring John Malkovich, and the buzz around the latest installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. There are also an increasing number of re-enactors and cos play participants donning pirate attire and a national “talk like a pirate day” that is always fun to participate in on Facebook.
            What is it about pirates? It's a treasure-seeking, freedom-loving Archetype, full of the romanticism that has somehow bled away (for the time being) from our notions of the Old West, and Demons & Pearls takes all the best of the romantic tropes and couples them with the requisite scenes of brutality, double-crossing and the denigration of women.
            Demons & Pearls centers around the character of Ivory Shepard, an independent, strong, and beautiful woman whose life has been turned continually upside-down at the hands of ruthless pirates. She has taken on the responsibility of protecting her three cousins from on-ship hazards as well as a dark, unseemly plot in Port Royal, Jamaica. Ivory, who is nicknamed “Razor” because of her weapon of choice, is a complex, compelling character. She walks a thin line between the male and female, and leaving behind the life that has caused her and her family so much misery and fully giving into it by becoming a pirate herself.
            Amongst the male pirates, there are lively characters with names like Rip, River, and Red, who are vying for the captaincy and working the pirate articles of conduct to their advantage, all while trying to make a quick buck and get a girl any way they can.
            Bartlett’s facility with written dialects is just as strong here as it was in Fireflies, with the “pirate-speak” with which fans of the period and genre are well familiar adding a fun and spicy rhythm. There is just enough to give an authentic flavor to the dialogue without bogging the reader down.
            Bartlett also demonstrates a working knowledge of the ships of the time, adding detail and authenticity to the tale.
            My one criticism is that I wish an editor had the opportunity to look over the manuscript to clean up some of the typos. The cover, typesetting, and overall design are appealing and professional and the writing is so strong that little things like a misspelled word or misplaced punctuation tend to stick out.
            In the end, Demons & Pearls made for an excellent read and the end has me looking forward to seeing what is next for Ivory and the pirates.

            

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