The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar – A Review

Hi! I’m back with yet another exciting review – you KNOW how much I love The Write Reads tours and the whole gang. This week we’re gushing over The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar, and today is my stop. Can you tell I really loved this book?

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar
  • Publication date: June 16th 2020
  • Published: Puffin
  • Genre: Fantasy

Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always being told that girls can’t be explorers.

But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.

Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates – and discover what they are risking everything to find.

First of all – thank you to Dave for organising this tour and Puffin for providing me with a physical copy!

I don’t know where to begin gushing about this book, so I think I’ll start with the cover, because oh my goodness, she’s STUNNING. The little window on the paperback? chef’s kiss I know that is absolutely not up to the author, but whoever did design the book deserves a raise.

I was hooked on this book before I’ve seen the cover, though. A middle grade story full of magic, a literal Ship of Shadows and an all female pirate crew? What could possibly sound more amazing? My expectations were very high and… all of them were met.

Aleja, the protagonist, always wanted to travel the world but she was told girls couldn’t be explorers, so she lived out her dreams through reading. Born and raised in Spain, she taught herself how to read and speak English, as well as French and Arabic. And when she got tangled up in a bad business and accused of stealing, she found her refuge on… a pirate ship.
I loved Aleja as a main character. She was smart, bold and adventurous, a perfect protagonist to follow. But what stole my heart was the crew of the ship. Every single one of those ladies were badass, talented and amazing in their own way. I loved that they were unapologetically themselves and challenged all of the gender stereotypes – it’s nice seeing that in MG books, as I think it’s the influence kids need now more so than ever. If I had to pick a favourite character it would definitely be Frances. We could bond over cake.

The book was so incredibly addictive! I read most of it in one sitting. I’m a sucker for adventure stories that involve quests, especially MG ones as they’re usually the most magical. Reading The Ship of Shadows gave me a feeling of nostalgia and I wish it was a book I read as a kid, because I think it’s one of those books (like The Storm Keeper’s Island) it would be great growing up with. The writing was fantastic, the right amount of descriptive without slowing down the plot. I think the indication of great writing is the fact that I can clearly see what happened in the book as if I watched it as a movie, when I think back on it.

Goodreads does not indicate whether this will be a series although the way the story ended leaves lots of room for expanding. I do hope it becomes a series as I’d love to follow Aleja and the crew on more adventures, visit more places, fight more monsters and learn more about the shadows (which are THE COOLEST and so intriguing).

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thank you so much for reading! As always, follow the hashtags to read more reviews from so many awesome bloggers taking part in this tour.

I’ll speak to you soon!

3 thoughts on “The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar – A Review

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