This is the last part of Chapter 2, still in need of edits. But it’s here for you to read. Enjoy.
This is still the unvarnished, needs-to-be-revised material that I was showing you last time. This time around, I’ve got the second half of chapter 1 for you (the first half is right here). It comes complete with the bits that make me reach for the delete key, subsumed by the frantic urge to improve my own work. But it’s better than the first two times I wrote it!
I’m sharing this with you immediately after having gone through it with my mentor, knowing full well that there are many changes that I want to make. It’s a little painful to give it to you when I know that there’s so much more to be done. But I’ve got to share something, and if I wait for it to be perfect you’ll never see it. Real artists ship, right?
I’m also not giving you the entire chapter in one go, because that would be 4.5k. Here’s the first half, instead, coming immediately after the (also to-be-revised) prologue from before. Enjoy!
Sorry everyone. I’ve been pulled from my regular posts by school work, and until now I didn’t have any kind of extra material lying around that I felt okay about putting up here. I warn you now that I will likely not finish Miska’s story here this time around. But if you liked Miska before you’ll be happy to know that you’re about to get a few weeks of Miska posts. I figure doling out the first few chapters in chunks is appropriate. They’re way better now: I’ve written and rewritten the story a few more times, and I have the prologue and then some ready to share with you.
Here’s that prologue…
Yup! This one is pretty good too!
It’s almost a different genre though. Where the first book (*very mild genre spoilers*) was largely historical fiction and adventure, with a dash of romance towards the end, this one is more of a school social drama (still historical fiction), complicated by romance and a dash of adventure (*end spoilers*).
I’d say it’s still worth reading, but if you were only here for the sailing ships I’m afraid you’ll be rather disappointed. On the other hand, there were a few ships on the side as set dressing and I’m sure there will be more ships in the next book. And, of course, it’s still tremendous fun.
However! I should note that there’s some sexual harassment featured in this one, more so than in the last. The first book had a little, which ultimately ends rather poorly for the abuser (thank goodness). This one has more, at lower intensity for the vast majority, in other situations. I don’t think it’s been too much so far, but I’m not sure that I like this as a pattern.
On the one hand, sure, it makes sense to include some of this. I’m more willing to accept it in part because it doesn’t overshadow Jacky in any way, and her reactions to it feel quite real. It makes it clear how uncomfortable and unwanted that behavior is, and how confusing and difficult it can be to react to receiving it. If nothing else, it might be a decent learning experience for young not-female readers, where they can come away from it thinking “oh, that’s fucked up, we shouldn’t do things like that.” But on the other hand, I don’t want to keep reading about sexual harassment and assault in every Jacky Faber book. If that is an underlying theme of the series… well, I’d really rather that it weren’t.
This hasn’t been a terrible sticking point for me so far. But it might become one, and it may already be one for you. Forewarned is forearmed, etc.
And again, I still like this one and I’m planning to read the next book damn soon. So it obviously hasn’t stopped me yet.
Publisher’s Weekly certainly isn’t wrong. I’ll warn you though, some of the other covers for this series are bizarrely out of keeping with the text and themes. I’m talking about you, weirdly sexualized romance-cover blond girl.
Fortunately, reading this book doesn’t involve long hours of staring at its cover! It’s a fast read, and is excellent historical naval adventure fiction with a female protagonist. I’m not certain what to think of Jack’s characterization at a few points (Jack gets a period, feels emotional, I don’t know whether to say that it’s well or poorly done), but goodness the rest of the book is fun.
Fun. Yes. That’s a good word for this book. It’s wonderfully fun late middle grade / early YA adventure fiction, with just enough in the way of messy emotions near the end to leave it straddling the two camps while still feeling very much like a middle grade adventure story. It puts me in the mood to write more Miska, and also to read the rest of this series. It’s good stuff. I recommend it.
This scene doesn’t happen, but doesn’t it look nice?
My review has been delayed by other distractions, but I read most of 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies before it actually came out. You see, I’m infatuated with the 1632 universe. I think that’s at least in part because the series offers a far more optimistic take on the world than most of the other fiction that I read. If you already know that you don’t like the series, I doubt this book will change your mind… but if you do like them, you’ll want to take a look. I’m not totally sold on it, and yet I still love it.
What do I mean by that? Well, this book is a clear sequel to the Baltic War storyline, but it also incorporates at least two other storylines into the mix, with other elements thrown in from the rich milieu which has developed in the rest of the 163X stories. It’s clearly intended to start a new set of storylines, several of which seem like they deserve their own books, or at least their own short stories. I can see why they tried to fit so much into this book, but I feel like they ended up trying for too much and then ended up without quite enough to satisfy me with each of the individual stories.
But maybe the piecemeal way in which I read the book has done it a disservice. I got early partial copies as soon as they became available and, like the literary glutton that I am, devoured each morsel as quickly as I could. Like I said, it’s an infatuation. While I doubt I’ll be able to restrain myself from reading new 163X books as fast as I can, I resolve to start over from the beginning next time once the whole book becomes available. I’ll probably re-read 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies some time soon to see just how much of my impressions came from the disjointed nature of my reading.
Now then, how about my thoughts on the material itself?
Reserved for the Cat is another one of Mercedes Lackey‘s send ups of old fairy tales, still predictable and still entertaining. It’s a fine retooling of Puss in Boots, but as with all of the other Elemental Masters stories you can’t expect too much in the way of surprises. Well, that’s not quite true: it does diverge from the original story to offer the heroine a more decisive place in the final climax, but I’ve come to expect that from Lackey’s reworked fairy tales and can’t really count it as a surprise.
I doubt that Reserved for the Cat will win any particular awards, but if you’ve enjoyed the other entries in the series I expect that you’ll like this one too. In fact, you’ll probably like it more than some of the others; unlike in Shadow of the Serpent, the heroine here actually has a chance to take care of her own problems. And unlike the original Puss in Boots, the cat here creates nearly as much trouble as he solves and has to deal with the problems his own overconfidence has created. I find that altogether more satisfying than the alternative.
My thoughts on the book’s high notes after the break.