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!

Most Anticipated Releases of the Third Quarter of 2020

Hi! This time I didn’t like when I said I’ll speak to you soon. July means we’re entering the third quarter of the year, which in turn means it’s time for my quarterly new releases post. These are my most anticipated releases for the months of July, August and September (for UK paperbacks mostly, which are my preferred editions).

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Release date: July 7th

Burn Our Bodies Down is another queer mystery/thriller/horror from Rory Power. I really loved Wilder Girls, so I’m looking forward to picking this one up. It follows Margot, a girl who was raised by her mother alone, who decides to look for her family and ends up in her mother’s hometown, where she realises her mother left for a reason. What reason? No clue, but it sounds mysterious and a bit spooky and I’m all here for it.

The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

Release date: July 16th

This beauty is a Middle Grade story about pirates, if you couldn’t tell by the cover. As a sidenote, can anyone explain to me how MG books are consistently so stunning? I don’t know exactly what the book is about other than it has female pirates, but honestly that alone is good enough for me. I will be reading it and reviewing it for you very soon, because I’m on a tour for it!

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reeds

Release date: August 4th

Guess who got approved for an e-arc of this? I couldn’t be happier. It’s a coming of age story set during the Rodney King Riots in 1992 Los Angeles. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about that part of Black American history, but I’m looking forward to reading a book set during it and educating myself on the subject, too, and most importantly support a debut author.

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

Release date: August 5th

So… I included this in my last most anticipated releases post, but I think it got pushed back? All I know I can’t get it until August and it sucks because I really want to read it now. It’s a YA thriller, it has a podcast element (which I loved in Sadie, so I’m intrigued) and murder mystery element and honestly just sounds fantastic.

Fable by Adrienne Young

Release date: September 1st

I read Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young and ever since, I know I want to read everything by her (don’t ask why I haven’t picked up her second book yet and don’t shame me further, please). Fable is a story about a girl trying to escape a dangerous island on which her father left her and taking her rightful place on her father’s crew. It sounds like a great YA fantasy, and the cover is to die for.

The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James

Release date: September 3rd

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know much about it other than it’s a paranormal fantasy where all of the characters are ghosts with different powers? Doesn’t that sound fanfuckingtastic? It has (supposedly) the found family trope, which is one of my FAVOURITES! I’m pumped.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Release date: September 15th

Another YA fantasy that sounds amazing! From what I know of it it’s a modern King Arthur retelling of sorts with heaps and heaps of representation, and… demons. The synopsis says it’s in the vein of City of Bones (and though I recognise it might not be a compliment for many and TMI is not a masterpiece of any sorts, I kind of understand what they mean, by marketing it as such), which lets me believe it’ll be addictive af. Also, the cover… what a stunning book!

That is all for this post. I’m sure there are many more terrific books being released in the next 3 months, so if you feel like sharing some of your most anticipated releases in the comments below, please do – my TBR might not need more books, but I certainly do.

Thanks for reading!