Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull

Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull coverJim Morgan and the
Pirates of the Black Skull

By James Matlack Raney
Dreamfarer Press
22 November 2013

PIRATES! Who doesn’t like pirates?

I read Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull without ever having laid eyes on the first book in the series, Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves—partially because I hadn’t heard of the first book before picking up the second and partially because I like to see how well the second (or third) book in a series handles by itself. (That is, should I have read the previous book[s] in the series for context and character development, or does this book read well as a stand alone piece?)

So, how does Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull measure up? When I read self-published ventures, I have high hopes and low expectations, and in this case I was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of writing in this novel, and though it does reference Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves, it’s a pretty good read by itself, too. Pirates of the Black Skull is an easy read for anyone with at least a high school reading level.

Just when he’s ready to return to his birthright, Morgan Manor, Jim starts having nightmares that all include a Crimson Storm with the face of a black skull. His father’s old enemies, Count Cromier and his son, force him into a race that reveals secrets: about his father, about the Treasure of the Ocean, and about himself and his future. The setting is a mix between fantasy and magical realism; Jim battles pirates, handles sea monsters, and finds hidden islands.

The plot is well done, and the writing is decent, as I mentioned, but I’m a stickler for girl and woman characters, and this novel has a couple promising characters: Lacey being the most obvious. Unfortunately, I don’t think the potential was fulfilled in execution. I really love characters I can relate to, and seeing women as people the same way men are portrayed as people is something I always look for. Pirates of the Black Skull‘s ratio for girl characters to boy characters is pretty sad: one to four. That’s not the worst I’ve ever read—some novels don’t even have women characters in them at all—but it’s not a great start for a newly published author. (I realize that the more well-known and well-established an author is, the more likely they can write what they want without having much push back, but I would like to see more newly-published authors taking risks—and that includes the author of this novel.) I want my stories to challenge me, and I want them to challenge me, not my brother or best guy friend.

DISCLAIMER: I received Jim Morgan and the Pirates of the Black Skull free from Smith Publicity for this review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.