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Monday, July 11, 2011

Sea Witch by Helen Hollick

Sea Witch by Helen Hollick
Publisher: SilverWood Books UK
Genre: Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (334 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

At 15 Jesamiah Acorne escapes the bullying of his elder half brother to become a pirate with only two loves – the sea and his freedom. But his life is to change after an attack on a merchant ship off the coast of South Africa when he meets the mysterious Tiola Oldstagh, an insignificant girl – or so he assumes until he discovers her true identity, that of a white witch. Tiola and Jesamiah becomes lovers, but the wealthy Stefan van Overstratten also wants Tiola as his wife. Meanwhile, Jesamiah's half-brother, Phillipe Mereno, is determined to seek revenge for resentments of the past.

When the call of the sea and an opportunity to commandeer a beautiful ship, the Sea Witch, is put in Jesamiah's path he must choose between his life as a pirate or his love for Tiola. He wants both… but Mereno and van Overstratten want him dead.

Tiola must use her gift of Craft to rescue her lover, but first she must brave the darkness of the ocean depths and confront the supernatural presence of Tethys, the goddess of the sea, who will stop at nothing to claim the soul of Jesamiah Acorne for herself.

He’s too wild and she’s too young, but Tiola knows the day will come when they will be one. Her ageless self that has been since time immemorial knows their souls have touched before and are meant to be together.

Jesamiah Acorne, a pirate wild and free, learned his trade from the best. He loves the danger, challenge, and adrenaline rush of the Chase. In his early twenties, he is already wealthy, but something other than pursuit of wealth drives him. Viciously abused by his older half-brother Phillipe before he was fifteen, he watched his inheritance burn and wept in total defeat with no one to protect him. Then a hand of comfort and protection touched him and the inner sense of a voice came, saying “fight him”.

Jesamiah, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, sets forth to roam the seas during the early eighteen century, robbing richly laden trade ships and loving every minute of it. The big trade ship “Cristina Griselle” eludes him but as she sails away, Jesamiah sees Tiola on the ship’s deck. The hair prickles on his neck.

Tethys, soul of the sea and spirit of the waves, wants the beautiful, dark-eyed pirate with the blue ribbons in his dark hair. She whispers to him and does not take kindly to the child-woman witch with her White Craft that lures him and challenges Tethys’ timeless supremacy.

Stefan von Overstratten, a rich, pompous Dutch merchant in Cape Town, Africa, sets his sights on Tiola for a wife. Even though she works as a midwife and healer in the squalid part of Cape Town, Stefan is attracted to her beauty and knows she is from “quality” folks in Cornwall, England, well-educated, and quite adequate for bearing his children.

Stefan is furious when Tiola drags the pirate out of the filthy alleys and brings him to her rooms to tend him as he heals from near-fatal wounds. The ensuing conflicts, filled with greed, social class snobbery, daring exploits, humor, mayhem, and a touch of magic drive the plot along at a fever pitch. From Africa to the Caribbean, through storms, earthquake, and times of tranquility, Jesamiah plies his trade and meets the conflicts head on.

Sea Witch is an armchair adventure of a life time with a swashbuckling, driven pirate and a White Craft child-woman witch, both of them very aware that death stalks them and will get them if they let their guards down.

Helen Hollick’s description of the pristine beauty of Cape Town at a distance along with the description of the squalid, brutal conditions in the alleys creates vivid pictures for the reader. Her meticulous description of the ships and ocean brings this adventure a strong sense of place. However, the most compelling of all are the characters with their deep fears, desires, needs, loyalties, and loves that propel the action through hate, blood, brutality, and misery to finally sail into tranquil waters that promise destinies will be fulfilled—in time.

Sea Witch, the first of a pirate trilogy about Captain Jesamiah Acorne, is set firmly in a historical time that Helen Hollick brings to life in the mind and imagination of the reader. This breathtaking, magical love story with the wild adventures is masterfully written and is an incredible vicarious journey for the reader.