I can't remember where or when I first heard of the book BLOODY JACK but I do know that I didn't think it would be my kind of read. It was supposed to be a young adult story of an orphaned girl on the streets of old London who dressed as a boy and went to work on a ship where she had all sorts of adventures. Now why I wouldn't like that I'm not certain, except maybe because it was YA? Anyway, when I got laid off back in November I simply couldn't stand to read or listen to audiobooks for quite a while. My life was crazy and everything was turned on it's head. One day I decided that I needed a light, fun audiobook to entertain me as I cleaned the house. I saw that BLOODY JACK was available for download from my library so I decided to give it a shot. HALLELUJAH! I found a jem of a book! This series is exactly what I was looking for at the time and I'm thrilled that I found it.
This series is laugh-out-loud funny yet filled with enough historical detail to seem (at least somewhat) realistic. Jacky is tough and wiley and downright lucky, plus she's got attitude and to spare. You can't help but love her and hope for the best for her.
Rather than review each book individually I'm going to give you a few sentences on each one all in this post. I'll do my best to be spoiler-free but there might be a few minor things in the later books that might be considered spoilers for the first few books (nothing that would ruin the story though!).
Bloody Jack - This is the book that made me fall in love with the series. It is fun and funny, yet historically detailed and interesting. It follows Jacky from the streets of London on to the HMS Dolphin where she disguises herself as a ship's boy. She forms a brotherhood with her fellow ship's boys and does her best to keep anyone from figuring out that she's a girl (which becomes more difficult as she hits puberty). (7.36 hours)
Curse of the Blue Tattoo - Jacky navigates new waters when she finds herself enrolled at the Lawson Peabody School For Young Girls in Boston. Can a wild and willful orphan/ship's boy learn to be a lady? Maybe, but it will be VERY difficult ... (14.15 hours)
Under The Jolly Roger - Jacky's back at sea in this book, and she's in a bit of trouble (no big surprise by this point!). Can she keep herself clear of a creepy captain who wants her as his prize? And will she make it back to London to be reunited with her true love? And how does Lord Nelson and the Royal Navy play into the story? (14.73 hours)
In The Belly Of The Bloodhound - The girls from the Lawson Peabody are ALL in trouble this time around. The focus of this story is slavery in its many forms, and there were parts of this book that actually brought me to tears (chills first, then tears). Although this wasn't one of my favorites in the series I have to admit that it packed more of an emotional punch than the others. (15.35 hours)
Mississippi Jack - Jacky finds herself on a journey down the Mississippi River in what may be my least favorite book in the series. There was one particular character who drove me crazy in this book, and I also felt like coincidences were stretched to their breaking point quite often. It wasn't nearly enough to put me off the series but I was glad to move on to the next book. (17.4 hours)
My Bonny Light Horseman - Several characters from previous books make appearances in this adventure which finds Jacky as a spy in Napoleon Bonaparte's army. Again, chance and circumstance are stretched beyond belief in this book but I still quite enjoyed it. Jacky seems to be turning into a deeper character as she grows up a bit and I really enjoyed that aspect of the story. (12.01 hours)
Rapture of the Deep - I couldn't believe how this story started out (one of those crazy coincidences again) but once I got past that I really loved this book. It incorporated both treasure hunting and scientific discovery and the story was downright entertaining. (12.33 hours)
I really do love this series in spite of the flaws. It is fun and entertaining, it makes me laugh and cry, and it is simply a good series of books. If you can take it just as seriously as it takes itself (which is not very) then you will probably enjoy it as much as I did.
The next book, The Wake of the Lorelei Lee, is out in hardcover but not in audio yet. I'm still deciding whether I want to read it now or wait for the audio ...
A quick note on the narrator: Katherine Kellgren narrates all the Bloody Jack book and she is AMAZING. She has a great ability with accents and voices and also with songs (there are lots of songs in these books). I will definitely be on the lookout for other books she's narrated; she is incredibly talented and versatile and she's a joy to listen to.