I’ve been reading the Jacky Faber series by L. A. Meyer since high school. I think there were only two or three books when I started. Last month, I was very excited to read the latest installment–Book Eleven, Boston Jacky.
I’ve previously reviewed the (amazingly brilliant) audiobooks (Book One and Books Two through Five), as well as last year’s Book Ten. The series follows the adventures of Jacky Mary Faber, a London street orphan who disguised herself as a boy to join a Royal Navy ship (hoping for regular meals). Her adventures have taken her around the world as a pirate, a spy, a deep-sea diver, an artist’s model, a singer…and sometimes a fine lady.
Book Eleven sees Jacky back in her beloved port of Boston, where she buys a tavern, scraps with the local gangs, has a falling out with beloved friend Amy, and may finally lose her long-time and long-separated love Jaimy Fletcher (but I doubt it).
The last few books have been wild geography tours, taking Jacky to Australia, China and Spain, and fun though that was, I was happy to see that we were heading back to familiar locales. This let us focus less on the strange landscape and more on the characters–with plenty of familiar ones back, like Amy Trevelyne, Mistress Pimm, Clarissa Worthington Howe (of the Virginia Howes) and the endlessly-supportive Higgins. The cast makes this a good one for people who have read the series…but not a good one to jump into if you haven’t!
Far less happens in this book than in the previous one, and I think that’s a good thing. Book Ten felt like a mad whirlwind of too-briefly touched-on incidents with far, FAR too many flirtations. This book felt like a short but effective chapter in Jacky’s career. It didn’t move the story forward very far, but it was a better trip for what was covered. And maybe I wasn’t the only one who felt serious sparking with five men (I counted) in a short book was a bit much in Book Ten–this one toned it down, and while Jacky still has her moments, it was all with old familiar characters instead of an endless parade of new ones.
We also get another installment of miscommunication and missed-opportunities with Jacky’s “own true love” Jaimy. I have been thoroughly over the Jacky/Jaimy romance since Book Five, and really wish Meyer would give up the ongoing separations and misunderstandings coming between them. Either have them marry, or break them up permanently–or Jaimy could die, I’d be comfortable with that. I don’t dislike him, but I really don’t think he’s right for Jacky…so at this point I’m actually rooting for them to not resolve their endless obstacles.
I will say that at least this particular romantic mishap is fairly amusing, and at least doesn’t get in the way of the more interesting plot developments, like the fight with the Ladies Temperance League, or the abduction of two children Jacky has taken under wing.
On the whole, this book was a solid installment in the series, and if not extraordinary, it was an improvement on Book Ten. It left me deeply curious where Meyer plans to go next–not because of the specific cliffhanger, but just because I’m wondering if this one (or the next book) may signal a change in direction. I love irrepressible Jacky, but she’s only aged about four years since Book Two, and I’m thinking I’d very much like to see an older, more mature (though still irrepressible!) Jacky. I feel like settling down in Boston is our best chance at a more stable future in the series… Or maybe Jacky’ll set sail again in Book Twelve and we’ll see where the wind takes us. For now at least, I’m still willing to continue the ride.
Author’s Site: http://www.jackyfaber.com
Buy it here: Boston Jacky