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The Witch From The Sea
The Witch From The Sea
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Lisa gives an overview of the book:

A swashbuckler set in the West Indies of the early 19th Century THE WITCH FROM THE SEA is a love story, a coming-of-age adventure and an eccentric comedy of manners about a woman who runs with the pirates to free herself from the conventional "rules" of gender, race and class. Tory Lightfoot, an orphan of mixed white and Mohawk blood, flees the stifling gentility of 1823 Boston for the freedom of the open sea. But the merchant ship on which she stows away is boarded by pirates off the coast of Cuba, and Tory is forced to join the pirate crew to save her life. Making herself useful as both log-keeper and spy, she begins to earn a measure of the independence she craves. But fate, fever and the relentless U. S. Navy West Indian Squadron close in, and Tory must risk her hard-won freedom to save the man she loves. "THE WITCH FROM THE SEA is that rare creation, an...
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A swashbuckler set in the West Indies of the early 19th Century THE WITCH FROM THE SEA is a love story, a coming-of-age adventure and an eccentric comedy of manners about a woman who runs with the pirates to free herself from the conventional "rules" of gender, race and class. Tory Lightfoot, an orphan of mixed white and Mohawk blood, flees the stifling gentility of 1823 Boston for the freedom of the open sea. But the merchant ship on which she stows away is boarded by pirates off the coast of Cuba, and Tory is forced to join the pirate crew to save her life. Making herself useful as both log-keeper and spy, she begins to earn a measure of the independence she craves. But fate, fever and the relentless U. S. Navy West Indian Squadron close in, and Tory must risk her hard-won freedom to save the man she loves.

"THE WITCH FROM THE SEA is that rare creation, an historical romance with guts as well as glamour. Wild-spirited Tory is an irresistible character."
- Joan Druett, author and nautical historian (She-Captains; Hen Frigates)

"Jensen combines action and romance in this gritty and realistic portrait of life on the seas." - Booklist

"I highly recommend this book to any lover of historical fiction." - Historical Novel Society Review

"I am in love with this book. Full of romance and piracy and danger. The author writes with a deep respect for all people--white, black, Spanish--and a feminist voice.  Grade: A+"     -Reading Rocks YA Fiction Review site

 

 

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PROLOGUE
Boston, 1823

My first taste of freedom was almost my last. I very nearly balked at the blackness of the February night out beyond the iron gate and at the icy wind shrieking its warning in my ears. Go back, foolish girl. There is no place for you out here. But there was no place for me anywhere in Boston. Certainly not at the Worthen Female Academy; its forbidding stone face loomed in the dark behind me like the prison, the tomb it was. My only chance at freedom lay beyond the gate, and my passion for freedom was stronger than my fear; it only needed to be slapped and coaxed and bullied into life, like any infant thing.

A night-soil cart rumbled over the cobbles in the next street, the hollow clop of hooves echoing like the footsteps of ghosts. I was haunted by so many ghosts, everyone I had lost. Mama, dead in her childbed. Papa, lost to his rage. My half-brothers, both gone away. The iron froze to my bare hand as I gripped a bar, raised the latch, and nudged open the gate. I would go too, and I mustered the courage to push the heavy gate shut behind me and abandon myself to the night.

It was easier to move quietly without my usual armor of pantalettes and cumbersome skirts. I'd stolen this outfit ofwoollen trousers and greatcoat and coarse linen shirt from the servants' castoff clothing put by for the poor. I was tall for a girl of sixteen and possessed of no great delicacy of form or feature, as had been brought to my attention on many occasions. But those defects would help me, now. I ought to have cut my hair short as well, but my long, dark hair was all I had left of my mother; I would be like Samson without it-weakened, helpless, lost. So I had plaited it back and stuffed it under my collar. Stray Indians with long, plaited hair were not uncommon along the waterfront.

It was heretical to pose as a male, I knew-a crime against God, never mind the crime of theft. Yet more sins, more black marks against me in God's accounting book, beginning with the sin of my mother's tainted blood, that crippling defect for which there was no remedy. But I cared not. If goodness were to be forever denied me, I would embrace sin, and gladly. Five long years at Worthen had failed to improve me. My time there had been like a suffocating nightmare from which I was only now waking.

I heard again my Aunt Fiona's prim voice ringing all round the vast and polished rooms of her Boston townhouse as I cowered before her, alone and miserable. "I have no place to keep a child, here, Victoria," she told me. But I knew she had sheltered my fair-skinned brothers, my father's sons, when their mother died. Before he removed them to the country to start a new life on the farm with his new bride. His heathen bride. My mother. Had she only lived, had my Papa only kept his reason, I should not have been an orphan begging for my Aunt Fiona's charity.

"My brother has been sadly negligent in his paternal duties," Aunt Fiona went on. "But you will receive a proper Christian education at the Worthen Academy. When you learn some manners and accomplishments, in time . . . the other won't matter as much." I could see her appraising my dark hair and eyes. My otherness. "Remember, you are my niece. And your Papa was a good and respected man in this town, once. There is no shame in being your father's daughter."

Or my mother's. And I lifted my head and met my aunt's gaze. I was done with begging.

The memory of my aunt dissolved in the black night, replaced by the pink face, golden ringlets and vicious blue eyes of the prettiest, most well-bred young lady among my new classmates, accosting me in the stairwell. "Your mama was a heathen red-Indian witch who turned your papa crazy!"

I heard again the satisfying smack of my hand across her pale face. "My

lisa-jensen's picture

Pirate stories are my favorite guilty pleasure, but I dislike the typical heroine, flouncing around in her petticoats while the guys go off and have all the fun. My heroine joins a pirate crew for the same reasons as any man—the freedom and independence she can't get from her restricted life ashore.

About Lisa

I grew up in Hermosa Beach, CA, and graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a decorative, but not especially useful B.A. in Aesthetic Studies. I launched my writing career as a film critic for the Santa Cruz alternative weekly, Good Times, a position I've held since...

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Published Reviews

Feb.18.2012

"Jensen's fast-paced debut novel stands out for its satisfyingly well-drawn characters and strong historical sense of time and place. I highly recommend this book to any lover of historical fiction."

Feb.18.2012

"I am in love with this book.

 

No, seriously. It was awesome. Such an adventure, it was, full of romance and piracy and danger! The author writes with a deep respect for all people--...