Title: The Isle of Gold
Author: Seven Jane
Publisher: Black Spot Books
Publication Date: 9 October 2018
Format: eBook - EPUB
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Source: ARC via NetGalley
The year is 1716—the Golden Age of Pirates. An orphan who sleeps in the dusty kitchens of a quayside brothel, Merrin Smith is desperate to unravel the secrets of her past and find the truth about the events that brought her to the Caribbean island of Isla Perla as a child. Disguised as a sailor, and with the help of her longtime friend Claudette, Merrin joins the crew of the pirate ship Riptide, helmed by the notorious Captain Erik Winters. Tenacious and rumored a madman, Winters is known as much for his ruthlessness as for his connection to the enigmatic and beautiful proprietress of the Goodnight Mermaid, Evangeline Dahl, who vanished from Isla Perla two summers before.
At sunset the Riptide sails for the mythical island of Bracile, a place hidden between air and sea and that exists only for a moment every two years, and which has never returned any man who has sailed for its shores. The journey will be perilous and long, and it will take Merrin far away from the only home she’s ever known. Because she can read, Merrin will serve as the Captain’s apprentice, deciphering old texts for clues to the island’s whereabouts as the ship sails through haunted, frozen waters and into the very heart of the ocean. As she struggles to navigate the rough, seafaring life aboard a pirate ship, Merrin must keep her identity hidden from the scrupulous gaze of not only Captain Winters, but also Mister Brandon Dunn, the ship’s surly, legend-spouting quartermaster, and Tom Birch, the charming boatswain Merrin can’t help but feel drawn to.
As the Riptide makes its way to Bracile, Merrin begins to suspect that the men she has worked so hard to deceive may in fact be more connected to her than she would have imagined, and that perhaps her own past might have more to do with the Dunn’s legends and myths than she ever could have guessed.
The Isle of Gold was an interesting read--one about which I am still pondering as I pen this review. There was a lot to like about it, with pirates and adventure blending with fantasy and mythology. I appreciated the character of Merrin. However, I struggled to feel the connection between her and Tom, which seemed purely physical lust rather than love. To me, the person of greatest interest was Captain Winters, and I would have enjoyed the opportunity to get to know him a little more. I liked the way the story morphed from historical to fantasy, but I thought the pacing could have done with a little work. It was a somewhat plodding beginning, followed by a sudden rush of mad activity towards the end. In conclusion, this was an intriguing story with a lot of good points, but one which missed the mark here and there. I would recommend it to those who enjoy pirate stories with a touch of fantasy (along the lines of Pirates of the Caribbean), and overall I give it 3.5 stars, pushing to 4.