Jim Morgan and the
Pirates of the Black Skull
By James Matlack Raney
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.