From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up Nic Dattore, 17, is the hero of this second book in the series. In the magical world of Cassaforte, his dreary life of indentured servitude seems cursed by misfortune. Traveling with a Dickensian theater troupe by sea, he ends up fending off pirates, losing his fellow thespians, and ending up on a deserted island. There he meets a charming Gurgi-like reformed pirate named Maxl a girl named Darcy and an old man, Jacopo. This motley band takes over the pirate ship, determined to sail it to Cassaforte so Jacopo can warn the city of an impending attack. In the process, Nic pieces together clues regarding his identity and the curse attached to him. Even if teens haven't read The Glass Maker's Daughter
(Flux, 2009), they can immerse themselves in this title as it is more of a companion novel than a strict sequel. The setting suggests a pseudo-European world similar to those found in Kai Meyer's The Water Mirror
(S & S, 2005) or Cornelia Funke's The Thief Lord
(Scholastic, 2002) complete with fake French, Italian, and Dutch language constructs. Some may enjoy the oddly familiar settings while other fantasy readers might wish for something more unique. Teens who read pirate novels or adventure-driven fantasy will identify with Nic's courageous attempts to help his friends and turn his misfortunes around. The dialogue can be disconnected, but the humor, friendship, and sword fighting make this title worth recommending. Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT
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Seventeen-year-old indentured servant Nic is cursed: all of his masters have met early, violent deaths (and deserved them, too). Nic hopes his luck is changing when he winds up with shrewd but jovial Armand Arturo, owner of the Theatre of Marvels—until their ship is attacked by pirates and Nic washes up on a deserted island. His quest for revenge becomes a quest to save the land of Cassaforte from invasion, aided by an unusual crew and an enchanted ship. Briceland’s spirited companion to The Glass Maker’s Daughter (2009) blends charismatic characters, magic, piracy, theater, and romance into a fantastical sea adventure. Grades 7-11. --Krista Hutley