Under the Jolly Roger by L.A. Meyer. Read by Katherine Kellgren Several years ago, I read the first book in this series, Bloody Jack, a rip-roaring tale of adventure on the high seas, as Mary “Jacky” Faber, street orphan, disguises herself as a boy so as to make an honest living as a ship’s boy. I read it in print at the time, which was fun. Now my love and I are rediscovering the series on audiobook. I think that someday soon I will have to write Katherine Kellgren a fan letter, because she is such an amazing reader. The books are full of people and accents from all over, from Jacky’s Cockney to Irish to Jamaican and American, which Kellgren brings beautifully to life. There are also a number of folk songs, and Kellgren not only has a fine voice for singing them, but also manages to make the different character’s singing voices different. This series is winning her all the major audio book awards, and rightly so, but I also loved her work on the Enola Holmes series, where Enola putting on a Cockney accent still sounds different from Jacky in this one.
Under the Jolly Roger is the third book in the series. Jacky has made her way back to England in search of her beloved Jaimy, from whom she was parted for all of the second book. She has only just found him again, disguised as a boy again, when she is caught by a press gang. This time, the ship (Wolverine) is captained by a lecherous man who refuses to let her go even when she reveals her female nature. Events move quickly, if increasingly improbably, as Jacky works her way from Midshipman (a rank she earned in the first book) up to Lieutenant in the Navy, then captures her own ship and gains a letter of marque so that she can operate as a privateer. We do not care about the improbability, though, any more than we care about the improbability of Indiana Jones, because this is about adventure, pure and simple. Well, with some music and romance thrown in, too, because even though Jacky is broken-hearted about Jaimy in this book and vows to live single, she always has a very hard time resisting a pretty boy, and there are several on the Wolverine. This is a great sea-faring romp for teens and up. It will be good in print, too, but listen to the audio if you possibly can.