Dagger Quick, by Brian Eames
Twelve-year-old Christopher “Kitto” dreams of life at sea, but instead apprentices for his father as a cooper (barrel maker) and gets ridiculed by local boys for his clubfoot. Then, his Uncle William Quick arrives, and everything changes. Captain William Quick is a privateer, on the run from the Governor of Jamaica and charged with stealing from the politician. When his father is brutally murdered and stepmother and brother kidnapped, Kitto sails away with his Uncle in hopes of freeing his family and setting things right. To make matters worse, there’s a traitor on board his uncle’s ship, and Kitto has befriended him.
Kitto is a brave and capable boy, always putting others above himself. Captain Quick is still a fairly mysterious character, though greed seems to be his motivation in life. While he’s a hardened privateer, Quick has a soft spot for his nephew. Eames’ characters are vivid and dark. The villains are rough and cut-throat. Quick’s crew is kind and loyal. Even the traitor has misgivings and guilt.
This is a fantastic swash-buckling tale for readers young and old alike. An impressive debut, the adventure and suspense is completely engaging. Kitto is such a charming character that I found myself getting caught up in his journey, and found it comparable to following young Jim Hawkins’ adventures in Treasure Island. Though, Dagger Quick is written in completely modern day vernacular and for middle-grade readers. Pirates, mystery, and adventure on the high seas – it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s fast-paced with plenty of thrills. Ending with a major cliffhanger, I’m eagerly awaiting a “Quick” sequel. Corny pun intended.