L.A. Meyer,
My Bonny Light Horseman
(Harcourt, 2008)

Jacky Faber is at it again. But her adventures this time will take her further into danger and the "great events" of early 19th-century Europe than she ever dreamed to go.

Our Jacky was leading a fairly idyllic existence, transporting goods between New England and Jamaica on her small but beloved ship, the Nancy B. Alsop, and waiting for her fiance James Fletcher to return from a tour of duty with the British navy. But Jacky's waters never run smooth, and this time the calm is disturbed by the arrival of a pirate ship carrying a grudge and a British naval warship with orders to capture the fierce pirate that is 16-year-old Jacky Faber and return her to England for trial and hanging.

But, while we might expect the winsome lass to wrap the crew of HMS Dauntless around her small finger, her plans for escape run aground when a French naval fleet sails into view with its eyes on a ripe British prize. Before you know it, Jacky and her shipmates are imprisoned and bound for the guillotine.

I'm sure it gives nothing away to assure you Jacky does not have her head chopped off. Instead, the book takes her in entirely new directions, from the British Secret Service to a Parisian brothel and to the elite conquering army of Napoleon Bonaparte himself.

Louis A. Meyer, the Maine writer and artist responsible for the Bloody Jack series, has once again raised the bar with this latest installment. The irrepressible Jacky is a darling character who will make you laugh, sigh, shed a tear and loudly cheer at every turn of her misadventures.

Of course, some readers may raise an eyebrow or two, too, as Jacky's morals -- despite proof that she's still a "good girl" to some degree -- continue to plummet. Oh, sure, she's remained "technically" faithful to her fiance Jaimy, but she is perhaps a bit too free with her kisses, among other favors, than some readers -- not to mention poor Jaimy -- might wish.

Otherwise, My Bonny Light Horseman is a treat through and through. Jacky Faber is a charming, refreshing character who appeals to young and old readers alike. Meyer, who is already at work on the next book in the series, has set a high standard for himself -- one I have no doubt he will match or exceed.

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review by
Tom Knapp

30 August 2008

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