Cadnum, Michael. Peril on the Sea. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009.
My Summary and Review
In the tradition of Pirates of the Caribbean, Peril on the Sea is a thoughtful but thrilling action/romance novel set in 1588 on the high Seas. Sherwin is a young writer/shiphand on board the "Vixen" under the notorious privateer (legal pirate) Captain Fletcher. War with the Spanish Armada looms in the distant future, though Captain Fletcher does not plan on fighting any battles. The story quickly changes after young Katherine joins the crew to safeguard a shady deal between Captain Fletcher and her father, also a captain. A small romance blooms between Sherwin and Katherine, while a Spanish warship appears, and the "Vixen" is now in dangerous waters.
This is a fast-paced read from Michael Cadnum, who was a National Book Award Finalist in 2000. Peril at Sea will be enjoyed by young adults who have a taste for history and/or romance. Sherwin is a believable idealist writer/sailor who is exposed to underhanded dealings of privateers, yet who manages to keep his morals straight. Katherine is a strong female character who knows how to drive a hard bargain. Through Captain Fletcher, Michael Cadnum has created an unreliable character of mixed allegiances. This book also has informative historical references to notable English pirates/privateers and to life on the sea long ago that fit well into developing the plot.