L.A. Meyer's "Bloody Jack" series is one that I enjoy so much, I jump up and down (and possibly squeal with delight) when a new book comes out. This time was no exception - especially because the last book, In the Belly of the Bloodhound, ended with such a cliffhanger!
I will say nothing about how Jacky managed to extricate herself from that situation, but anyone who's read any of her adventures would have no doubt that she would somehow manage to do so. This series, which begins with Bloody Jack, follows the adventures of Jacky Faber, who is without a doubt one of my favorite characters in fiction.
She is resourceful, intelligent, impulsive, creative, thirsty for knowledge, kindhearted and a natural leader. Unfortunately for her (but not for the reader), her impulsive nature gets her into one scrape after another, which leads to one harrowing narrow escape after another (not necessarily unscathed, either - bad things can and do happen throughout the course of the novels). The adventure never takes place at the expense of theme or characterization - the stories have a depth to them and a richness of historical detail that make them a true pleasure to read.
Jacky starts out an orphan on the streets of Victorian England in the first book, manages to become up a cabin "boy," falls in love with fellow cabin boy Jaimy Fletcher, and goes on to have many wonderful adventures on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as in other areas of the world. This installment takes her to the Mississippi river, where she travels on a boat downriver to New Orleans, hoping to meet up with her beloved Jaimy. My only criticism of the book is that it's getting just a little tiresome to have their perpetual attempts to find each other drive the plot of so many of these books. Still, the books are so exciting and delightful that it's hard to mind too much, especially since what happens along the way is invariably surprising and enjoyable to read about. Mississippi Jack explores some hard-hitting issues of 19th-century America, including slavery and government dealings with Native American tribes.
The books in the series are:
1. Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy
2. Curse of the Blue Tattoo: Being an Account of the Misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady
3. Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber
4. In the Belly of the Bloodhound: Being an Account of a Particularly Peculiar Adventure in the Life of Jacky Faber
5. Mississippi Jack: Being an Account of the Further Waterborne Adventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman, Fine Lady, and the Lily of the West
6. My Bonny Light Horseman: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, in Love and War
7. Rapture of the Deep: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Soldier, Sailor, Mermaid, Spy
It is extremely important to read these in order! I know I always say that, but it's essential with this series. I highly recommend every one of them.
Mississippi Jack by L.A. Meyer (Harcourt, Inc., 2007)