Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
Published by Simon Pulse on February 9, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Historical, Romance, Retelling
Pages: 384 Format: Hardcover Source: Library
Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.
Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.
Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?
From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
Along with this year’s theme of reading as many of the pirate and seafaring books as possible, I knew I had to pick up Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman even though it is not set on open waters. This one is essentially an origin story, the beginning of the infamous pirate Blackbeard. I have to say the hype kind of got the best of me on this one. I was disappointed by the overall story within the pages but the main characters were in fact excellent.
Set against the backdrop of Bristol, Edward Drummond returns to a smothering home life and a new maid that draws his attention. Since little is known about the Blackbeard’s early life, this book is a sort of retelling inspired by this mysterious figure. I enjoyed Castroman’s handling of how different names are associated with the pirate and it was great to have the differing perspective between the man and what he would become.
This is a tale of two people and as much as this story is Edward Drummond’s, it is also Anne Barrett’s. If I’m honest, Anne’s is way more interesting. Stuck in a position she should never have been placed in and longing for escape, she is willing to do what it takes to change the situation. While Edward’s arrival complicates things, Anne remains persistent. I loved her strong willed character and her understanding of others.
While I loved the characters, the story really felt flat for me. It just felt like a run of the mill historical romance. Maybe it was my expectations, but it could have been so much more. The first portion of the narrative dragged as we were introduced to everything. It did pick up in the latter half of the book and I thought the ending had a lot of promise for the future.
Overall, Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman was an enjoyable read but it didn’t blow me away. I just kept wanting more as the pages went by and I was left kind of disappointed. With that ending I’m hoping for a sequel. I do think there is more story to be told with both these characters and I want to see Blackbeard in all his awful glory. If you love historical fiction and romance this book is definitely for you though!
Was Blackhearts everything you hoped it would be? Are you waiting with bated breath for a sequel? Let me know in the comments below!