A pirate and his “wench” drop by
Sometimes, one is in luck: like when, just by chance, one gets hold of a recently conducted interview with Jesamiah Acorne. Now, for those of you not in the know, Jesamiah is an endearing rogue of a pirate, with lethal blue ribbons decorating his hair, a golden acorn in his ear. Unfortunately, our handsome Jesamiah is already taken – he is very devoted to his wife Tiola and (mostly) faithful. Plus, of course, Jesamiah’s creator Helen Hollick is not all that willing to share – in fact, she blushes quite prettily whenever Jesamiah refers to her as “his wench”.
Recently, Helen has published On the Account, the fifth book in her Sea Witch series featuring Jesamiah. I’ve read it, enjoyed it, and right at the bottom of today’s post is my review. Helen writes piratical deering-do for adults, spiced with some fantasy. Nice combo, IMO.
Anyway: Donna Gossip is going to kill me for stealing her interview, but that’s what you get when you leave your stuff lying about. So, before she comes back from the loo, allow me to share her interview with Captain Jesamiah Acorne – a man as much in love with his boat (oops! ship!) as his wife. Almost.
Donna Gossip, Journalist (DG) (standing on a jetty looking up at the deck of a ship) Hello there! Permission to come aboard?
Jesamiah Acorne, Captain (JA) (Peering over the rail at the woman on the jetty) Certainly Ma’am; mind your step across the gangplank, it’s a bit rickety.
A moment later, Donna is safely on board…
DG : (laughs) Goodness Captain, you were not joking! I nearly fell in. Could you not get something safer instead of a plank of old wood?
JA : Nothing wrong with my plank. Maybe its them daft high heels you’re wearing that cause the tottering?
DG : (looking at her new, bright red six-inch-heel stilettos and smoothing her somewhat short just-as-red mini-skirt) But these are the latest fashion! Still, enough about me; I’ve been sent to interview you for an article for the Daily G.
JA : Is that so?
DG : (looking round for somewhere to sit, arranges herself on a barrel and gets out a pen and writing pad.) My editor contacted your steward, a Mr Finch? He said you would be available.
JA : Did he now?
DG : We are interested in your adventures, Captain, you seem to have gained a reputation these last few years as a bit of a handsome rogue.
JA : Is that so?
DG : (realising this is going to be hard work, looks around the deck) Tell me about your boat.
JA : She’s a ship. Ships have more than two masts. (points to the nearest main mast, with the sails all neatly furled) Sea Witch has three. See?
DG : Can she go fast?
JA : depends on the wind and whether I want her to or not. If I’m chasing a Prize or wantin’ to show my arse to the Navy, then aye, she can go fast.
DG : You really are a pirate then? In your fictional world of stories, where you come from, that is?
JA : You mean in the stories my wench writes? (rubs at his slightly whiskered chin) I guess so.
DG : (laughs) Well I mean you are not from the present twenty-first century are you? We don’t have sailing ships and men dressed as pirates.
JA : I guess you don’t, but then in my time, the early 1700s, we don’t have women tottering around on neck-breaker shoes or showing their legs right up to their backsides. (grins) Nor revealing their ample assets up-top quite as much as that somewhat low-cut see-through lace chemise of yours.
DG : Women wore corsets and tight-laced ankle-length gowns in your era. Were they not cumbersome aboard ship?
JA : Probably, but most ships didn’t have women aboard. Those that were usually dressed in simple calico or cambric, woollen stockings, simple shoes. Long sleeves too, it can be cold at sea at night.
DG : Is it dangerous being a pirate?
JA : Depends on whether you’re a good one or not. There’s always the threat of the noose if you get caught. (leans forward and grins) the trick is – don’t get caught.
DG : In the latest book of your adventures On The Account, the story starts with you arrested for smuggling. Were you at all worried that you would be found guilty and hanged?
JA : (laughs) if that was the case it would have been a short novel wouldn’t it? (shrugs) No, I was relying on my wench to write me a way out of the predicament. As it happens, someone I knew got me off the hook.
DG : Rumour has it that you are not just a pirate but also a spy for King George’s government.
JA : You don’t want to believe everything you hear, Miss.
DG : Tell me about the one they call Maha’dun. I’ve heard he’s a bit of a peculiar chap?
JA : Maha’dun? I hardly know him. He came aboard Sea Witch, spent a short while with us.
DG : He can’t go out in the sunlight. Is that right?
JA : Apparently. The Nightm’n’s got some sort of skin condition that blisters in sunshine. We didn’t have Factor Ten sun cream back in our day.
DG : Some people are saying that he is a vampire.
JA (laughs) Some people are dim-witted clodpolls then. Not all night creatures are blood-sucking monsters you know. Owls and bats come out at night, you don’t think ill of them, do you? You’ve been readin’ too many of them Dracula Twilighty type stories, darlin’! Maha’dun is an oddity, I grant, drove me mad and I’m not certain I trusted him, but he’s good in a fight. He ain’t no vampire, though. He don’t ‘ave fangs for a start.
DG : Who else is in your latest adventure?
JA : Well, m’wife, Tiola of course, she manages to get herself kidnapped by Barbary pirates – vicious lot of thugs, they are. Young Thomas Benson from Appledore sails with us – he grew up to be one of Devon’s most famous smugglers, did you know that?
DG : Yes I did. Was it you who taught him the trade?
JA : (ignoring the question) There’s several of m’crew who were in the previous four Sea Witch Voyages and a couple of the Doones, you know, the descendants of that lot who were involved with Lorna Doone on Exmoor.
DG : Can you give me any more idea of what this next story is about?
JA : Once this little misunderstanding about smuggling and treason is cleared up there’s a couple of murders. I meet up with m’wife’s old friend, Maha’dun, the Nightm’n. I get coerced into finding a valuable casket that has gone missing, and a boy who has also vanished – probably with the box. Then there’s those Barbary pirates to deal with. Beyond that, I’m sayin nothing more. You’ll have to read the book. And I’d suggest getting’ yourself ashore ma’am, here comes Finch with coffee. I seriously warn you, you do not want to drink his coffee. It usually has everything in it except coffee.
DG : (putting her notebook away and heading back across the dangerous-looking gangplank.) Well thank you, Captain, I think I can write something useful from all that.
Finch : Who was that then?
JA : Someone from the twenty-first century. The one who sent you a fat fee for permitting her to come aboard.
Finch : (ignoring the bit about a fee) Oh, ‘er. Why’s she walkin’ on stilts, and cain’t they afford dressmakers in that there future? Blimey, she must ‘ave one ‘eck of a cold bum!
Donna Gossip : (thinks as she gets into her car and heads back to her own century) He was very handsome, but goodness I don’t think I’ll step back into the past that often… Have any of them heard of soap and deodorant I wonder?
Well, that’s where we leave Jesamiah for now, sipping Finch’s lethal brew. Should you want to know more about Jesamiah and Sea Witch, I suggest dropping by on the Sea Witch FB page. Or on Helen’s website. Or her blog. Or her Amazon page. Choices, choices…
And as to that review…
Okay, so I’ve been waiting for this book for quite a while. Waiting. Waiting. Wondering what’s keeping the author so long. Waiting…You see, at the end of the previous book, poor Jesamiah had barely survived a short visit to Spain before returning home only to end up in gaol, and I’ve been walking around with an imaginary rope burn round my neck as I’ve wondered if Ms Hollick could possibly be so cruel so as to hang her charming, leading man.
Anyway: at last On the Account was in my hands, and soon enough the potential risk of hanging had been averted and I could concentrate on keeping up with this sweeping, fast-paced story that has us travelling cross-country in south-west England before departing for further adventures further from home.
Ms Hollick spins a yarn – replete with nasty villains, buxom ladies, creeps, spies, self-serving bastards and pirates. The pages teem with witty dialogue, with casual historical details that have us firmly in the 18th century, in a day and age where the Jacobites still hold on to the hope of reclaiming the throne that was lost. Being a fan of this period, I enjoy just how lightly Ms Hollick inserts the historical setting – enough to create context, never so much so as to drown her narrative.
Both Jesamiah and Tiola are well-developed characters, and in this book we also have the pleasure of meeting Maha’dun, an enigmatic creature that exists in a twilight zone of dark and shadow. A good man to have at your side, it turns out – especially when you are desperately chasing abducted boys, mysterious boxes and an evil criminal who will stop at nothing to achieve his heart’s desire. Nothing at all…
In conclusion, On the Account is an entertaining roller-coaster of a read, and I am already looking forward to the next book in this wonderful series!
Captain Jesamiah Acorne is in trouble. Again. Arrested for treason and smuggling, believing his beloved ship, Sea Witch, lies wrecked on England’s North Devon coast, his only hope of escaping the noose is for someone to quash the charges. That someone turns out to be his ex-lover – but there’s a price to pay.
He needs to find a boy who has disappeared, and a valuable casket that more than one person wants to get their hands on. When people start getting murdered and Barbary pirates kidnap his wife, Tiola, his priorities rapidly change – but who is lying about what? Is returning to piracy a wise idea? Is Tiola having an affair with her mysterious Night-Walker ‘friend’?
Meanwhile, Tiola has her own battle to fight – keeping herself and Jesamiah alive!