I almost gave up on this book while reading the first third of it. The writing was awkward, as if Lee struggled to find the story's voice. The plot was tedious and the characters uninteresting.
But when Art and her unusual crew set out to sea, the book greatly improved, turning into an enjoyable, creative take on pirate legends. After all the adventure, swashbuckling and derring-do, Lee's pitch-perfect ending lent poignancy to the tale.
I was really excited when this book came out. I fully expected to totally love it - Lee is one of my favorite authors, so.. Lee and pirates? How could it go wrong?
I'm not quite sure, but somehow it does.
Set in a 'slightly parallel world' in 1802 (which basically means that place names are spelled wrong: the river Thamis flows through Lundun, for example), 'Piratica' gives us a young woman named Artemisia, who, while studying deportment at her girls' school, falls and hits her head. After this blow, Artemisia experiences a rush of memory that convinces her that before her father locked her away in the school, she was a pirate, sailing the seven seas with her captain mother, Piratica. Inspired, she runs away from school and finds her mother's old compatriots - who turn out to be members of an acting company who had put on a successful play about pirates.
Undaunted, Artemisia, taking the name Art Blastside, convinces the actors to steal a ship, and embark on an adventure in search of treasure - which, unfortunately, is already being sought by some 'real' pirates.
Lee usually excels at creating a dreamlike atmosphere in her work, but in this book, the events are more absurdist than dreamlike. It's obviously not supposed to be realistic - but somehow I wanted the narrative to have more internal logic than it did. Maybe it was just my mood.
I was also just rather annoyed by the issue of "Is Artemisia crazy or not...?" It was sort of like I kept wanting the book to just settle down into being the silly adventure romp for teenagers that it's being marketed as - but these quirks and kinks kept coming up distractingly. Which sound like it might be interesting - but I didn't find it so.
Although I can't say I loved the book, I did truly enjoy it. I read it while at sea, and despite not quite being what I expected, it covered the aspects required of a story and is decently wrapped up if you choose not to read more (as it is a series).
I highly recommend for any young woman or girl interested in pirates - its another look into that world. (I do admit to being annoyed about the "parallel" setting which jogged me out of the story every time I read a name like the 'Amer Ricas'.) If you're an adult and are interested in more pirate novels, by all means enjoy this quick read, and then you can pass it on.