Classic Review: Bloody Jack

I’ve been reading the Bloody Jack series since high school, and recently completed a re”read” of the series by audiobook (highly recommended!)  The final (twelfth!) book in the series will be out next week.  I can’t wait to find out what finally happens to Jacky Faber–and today I’m re-sharing my review of the series!


The Bloody Jack series follows the adventures of Jacky Faber…sailor, soldier, pirate, fine lady, spy…oh, and Lily of the West.  Among other things.  Set around 1800, it all starts in Bloody Jack, when orphan Mary Faber decides that the way out of the gutter is to sign onto a Royal Navy ship as a Ship’s Boy.  Obviously that second word presents complications, so Mary becomes Jacky and disguises herself as a boy.

Jacky is an incredibly fun character.  She’s endlessly creative with her schemes and ideas, wildly emotive, rarely depressed no matter what life throws at her, fiercely loyal to her friends and endlessly ambitious to better her life and the lives of the people she cares about.  She has dreams of creating a worldwide shipping industry, and despite usually being only one step ahead of a vast number of people chasing her, she also manages to keep chasing those dreams.  Honestly, she’s like a cork–the world keeps trying to push her down, and she just keeps bobbing merrily up again.

Throughout the series, Jacky gathers a cast of equally memorable characters around her.  A couple of favorites: there’s Higgins, who always maintains the exemplary dignity of a gentleman’s man servant, is enormously helpful faithfully following Jacky through all her adventures, and always makes sure that she keeps her hair at least moderately clean.  And there’s Amy, a very proper young lady from Boston who is frequently shocked by Jacky but loves her like a sister anyway.

There’s also Jaimy, Jacky’s “own true love.”  To be honest, I’ve never been all that impressed by him myself, but she seems to like him.  I don’t dislike him, but (at the risk of a slight spoiler) they don’t spend a lot of time together and after the first few books I lose interest in their romance.  It actually feels like Meyer keeps contriving ways to keep them apart (not emotionally, more often physically apart) as a way to keep the adventure going.  While I approve entirely of keeping the adventure going, I wish he’d either just get them together and let them have adventures together, or break them up and move on.

However, that’s my one biggest criticism of the series.  And it’s a wonderful series–funny, suspenseful, exciting.  Jacky travels from England to America to Australia having a never-ending series of mishaps and adventures.  I like to read before going to bed, and I’ve had to stop doing that with some of these because they’re too exciting and it wasn’t relaxing!

Adventure after adventure, I keep turning the pages with usually the same question: how is Jacky going to get out of this one?

Author’s Site:

Other reviews:
The Page Sage
Navigating the Stormy Shelves
Anyone else?

Buy it here: Bloody Jack

2 thoughts on “Classic Review: Bloody Jack

  1. These are some of my favorite audiobooks, too! I was so sad to hear that L.A. Meyer passed away before this book was released – my love had said he’d heard that Meyer was determined not to leave an unfinished series when he passed, as Patrick O’Brian did, but I really hoped that Meyer would end the from more usual reasons.

  2. Ahoy thar, fellow fan o’ Jacky! Reading your fun review has got me wanting to do a re-read of the series myself. Or, rather, I should finish the series first, as I somehow lost steam halfway through. Jacky is certainly one of the very best main characters/narrators in all the history of print. (And huzzah to mentioning the audiobooks — they’re so good I sometimes miss my exit on a road trip, because I’m too busy laughing uproariously.) Cheers!

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