A mysterious book. A creepy kidnapping. A ghostly pirate on the loose.
Researching ideas for a pirate story, 12-year-old Jeff and his pal Suzi uncover a mysterious book that reveals weirdly moving images of a scary pirate captain. After an old movie appears to replicate the images, one of Jeff’s teachers is kidnapped, prompting the investigative twosome to seek help tracking down the ghostly buccaneer. But Calico Jack has a history in Skeleton Cove and he’s out for revenge…
THE CURSE OF CALICO JACK is book #2 in this scary adventure series. If you like Goosebumps, you’ll love Skeleton Cove!
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2C64F0i
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2Cs4bBL
What is The Curse of Calico Jack about?
The Curse of Calico Jack is about Jeff dealing with the aftermath of a curse unleashed when he and his friend Suzi find an unusual book in his attic. It appears that Calico Jack has visited Skeleton Cove before and believes there’s something there waiting for him to break his curse. So Jack poses a threat to the children that accidentally awaken him and doesn’t seem to be stoppable…
Genre: Middle Grade Mystery
This book is definitely middle grade appropriate, and it’s quite a bit of a mystery! With supernatural elements at play, the characters are still concerned with figuring out just what is tormenting Skeleton Cove this time!
Tropes: Alternate History
This book features a world of “alternate history” in which events have transpired in just slightly different a way than reality. For example, the Beatles are slightly different people and names are changed here or there. These references allow the author to build up a world in which the rules of our reality aren’t necessary but the basics of our world can be used to build up Skeleton Cove.
Plot: Ghost Pirates
Much of the plot concerns the mysterious pirate in the book found by Jeff in his attic. The creepy image of this pirate haunts Jeff and Suzi in other books as well as appearing during an accidental movie screening at the theater. The creepy pirates and the ghostly Calico Jack continue to stalk the main characters throughout the book.
This was a genuinely enjoyable story! Jeff and Suzi are our young protagonists and they’re smart, somewhat responsible, and incredibly curious: the perfect mystery protagonists. Though this book is middle grade and thus has some irresponsible adults as a result, there were times when it seemed more sensible that the adults involved in the ghostly pirate case were including Jeff in their discussions or taking him along to uncover the next part of the story. I did enjoy that sense of the paranormal that comes with an alternate history, as well as the way that allowed a real pirate–Jack Rackham–to be incorporated into the fictional history of the fictional Skeleton Cove.
I’m still not entirely sure what the connection between all the players in the plot were. At one time there are real people that Jeff knows by name involved in the pirate scheme, but their role is never addressed again and they aren’t included in the final mystery of Calico Jack. It seems as though they were simply a red herring but a massive one that absolutely would have had consequences for them in real life. I was expecting some sort of resolution to this plot thread but was never satisfied.
I enjoyed this book a lot so I don’t have any strong criticisms of it!
I’m not a huge reader of Middle Grade books, but I’ve got to say this book was altogether as good as I’d hoped it would be! I found the characters entertaining, the writing pretty good, and the alternate history intriguing even if it played such a small role in the overall plot. I liked the combination of generic “bad guys” and genuinely creepy ghostly pirates–it created a great sense of the uncanny while also demonstrating that our protagonist is still a child. This was an overall entertaining and fun read! I definitely recommend it if you like short reads about ghost pirates!