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Witch from the Sea Paperback – August 1, 2001

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Tory MacKenzie, part Native American and an adventurous 16, realizes that the rigidity of 1823 Boston society is not what she wants out of life, especially after her mother dies, her father goes crazy, and her aunt sends her to a joyless boarding school. So Tory decides to disguise herself as a boy and head out on the open seas. Her boat has the misfortune of being boarded by pirates in the Caribbean, and she joins them when her shipmates accuse her of betraying them. Tory soon learns that the pirates are not the bloodthirsty lot she believed: they live by a strict code and are just trying to survive. A fortune-teller told her a blond, godlike man was in her future, and the Adonis-like Matty, the last of the crew she meets, certainly lives up to that prediction, but she learns that character matters far more than appearance. Jensen combines action and romance in this gritty and realistic portrait of life on the seas. Patty Engelmann
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


Grade: A+

I am in love with this book.

Full of romance, piracy, and danger. The author writes with deep respect for all people--white, black, Spanish--and a feminist voice. Tory is truly a woman to be reckoned with. --READING ROCKS Website

[T]his is a romp of a book that guarantees a fun read. -- Romantic Times Magazine, August 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Beagle Bay Books; American ed edition (August 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967959152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967959153
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,839,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I might have been a pirate in a previous life, or else I watched too many old Errol Flynn movies on TV in my formative years. My historical/fantasy "Alias Hook" presents the flip side of the Neverland from the caustic perspective of its prisoner, Captain Hook. It will be published by Thomas Dunne Books in July, 2014.
My swashbuckling historical novel, "The Witch From the Sea," published in 2001, is the first book in a planned trilogy.
Follow me on Facebook ( and Goodreads ( to read more about my books.
In real life, I'm a film critic for an alternative weekly in Santa Cruz, CA, and a former book reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Christine Lampe (No Quarter Given magazine editor) on February 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Witch from the Sea" is not a pirate-themed "bodice ripper" but a "coming of age adventure story", with a spirited female adolescent lead character. Tory is a feisty orphaned runaway from a stuffy Boston girls school (she was sent there by her blue-blood Bostonian aunt who disapproved of her half-Indian blood). After she dons boy's clothing, and stows away on a ship leaving Boston Harbour, she is soon discovered and put to work learning the ropes as part of the merchant ship's crew.
Then comes the pirate attack. Tory betrays the location of the contraband silver in order to save a fellow crewman's life. Knowing she'd be no longer safe aboard the merchant vessel, she willingly joins up with the pirates. Till now, everyone had believed her to be a lad, but the pirates soon find out differently. Luckily, by the time that happens, she has taken the oath and signed articles with Capt. Hart, who thus proclaims her as a regular crewmember, despite her gender. Very few of the diverse, colorful crew is happy with a female aboard, but amidst the glares, harassment, and near disasters, she adapts to her new life, and manages to create a niche for herself.
The era is the 1820's, a time when many pirates were Cuban, and most Caribbean ports friendly to pirates are Spanish colonial backwaters. The U.S. Navy is determinedly tracking down all pirates. Capt. Hart, though Scottish himself, has a largely Cuban crew, with Spanish as the "official" language of the his ship. Tory (and the reader) quickly learns some important (and colorful) phrases in Spanish. And she learns much more - sailing, fighting, circus tumbling, and ... even love.
True ...
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Woolston on October 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Witch from the Sea has it all--swashbuckling adventure, sea and ship lore, a down-to-earth character you enjoy rooting for, and on top of everything, a moving love story! What impressed me most is the writing, from the pacing to character development to just plain well written, evocative sentences. Such authors are rare, and I cannot wait for the sequel!
Carolyn Woolston
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brenda Preston on March 3, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This first novel is well written, fast paced, vivid and an all over fun book to read. The time and place come to life as you sail the blue seas with unforgettable pirates that break away from the usual sterotypes. And there's romance as well. I'm looking forward to the sequel.
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Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed the tale of Tory Lightfoot and her coming of age on the high seas. Her story has a little bit of everything - adventure, humor, tragedy, romance, Shakespeare! We are swept into the story as she grows from the brave young girl who stole out of her private school in Boston to take to the seas, into a bold, young lady pirate. She learns to seek the things she wants, instead of leaving them to Fate and her wheel. Several things stick out as exceptional in this story... (1) The story keeps you interested until the very last paragraph - you're not sure how it's really going to end. (2) The author avoided all the pitfalls of making this into your average pirate romance (I don't want to give spoilers, but I was very pleased with the outcome of everything, and delighted to see it rise above the norm) (3) I was not expecting the humor, but the pirates were exactly as I would like to think many were! (4) This author didn't balk at the cruelty of the era, classes, races, nor life at sea - she gave you the details, even the terrible ones. (5) The heroine may have started out young and in over her head, fallible, but shes a real person - a very likeable heroine with a strong will that you can relate to.
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By Broos Campbell on October 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
Lisa Jensen's THE WITCH FROM THE SEA is filled with sweet surprises. She has a marvelous gift for description, from the interior of a crude seaside hut to the way clothing feels on the body. That last can be a bit disconcerting for a male reader--or this one, anyway--particularly when Tory Lightfoot, her heroine, tells us exactly what it is about her shipmates that interests her. And Tory's pirate companions are cheerful advocates of rum and sodomy (though not so much the lash), which can be amusing or romantic, depending. All in all, a tidy yarn in the old Zorro vein from an author who bears watching.
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By T. Mike Walker on January 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book? It was well-written, sexy, and a good page-turner. Tory Lightfoot is a convincing character, and the author brings her adventures on a pirate ship dramatically to life. Romance, adventure, and a satisfactory (and beleiveable) conclusion. Can you hear my applause?
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