The Kraken’s Mirror by Maureen O. Betita
3* – Original but odd
I downloaded this book free as part of an offer. I note it’s now back to its regular price. Strangely, I finished this book a little uncertain as to whether I’d enjoyed it or not.
The story revolves around Emily, a recently widowed fifty-something who is living out the twilight of her years travelling around in a mini-winnie. She goes to a pirate fair and ends up getting sucked through a portal into 16th century Tortuga. Through various circumstances, she ends up working on a pirate ship and then meeting and falling for the handsome but cursed Captain Silvestri. Throw in a bit of magic, a glacial sorceress, an acerbic sidekick and a bunch of sea monsters and you’ve probably got the idea about right.
I loved the characters. I thought Pawes (Emily) was great and it’s nice to see books written about older men and women that aren’t perfect but still have deep beauty. I liked Captain Silvestri too – he had a hint of wicked playfulness that made him seem very appealing. In a way it would have been nice to know more about the other characters, to know why Tink was so acerbic and why Jezebel had stayed instead of trying to find her portal home.
I really liked the originality of the idea as well, the concept of portals from all over time and space opening up in 16th century pirate capital Tortuga. It just didn’t quite work. I don’t know if it was the way it was written, but the concept didn’t quite flow. It was maybe because of the technology left behind…random microwaves and ipods popping up here and there, totally isolated from any form of power source. I got the feeling at times that the author just put everything she couldn’t be bothered to explain down to magic. The concept was great, the execution left a little to be desired. It wasn’t ever really explored either, which is a shame as it might have added some depth to the story line. It was never explained why people didn’t travel back and fore all the time to bring stuff back. I know that one has to be able to suspend their disbelief to really get absorbed by paranormal fiction, but this was just too unbelievable to read comfortably.
There were a lot of spelling and grammatical errors too, enough to be irritating. There were also a couple of bits where the author was clearly channeling the Pirates of the Caribbean films. The use of Savvy didn’t quite work and Mama Lu was very like the witch in the films, right down to her manner of speech. There were certain things in the description of Captain Silvestri that made me wonder if he was based on Jack Sparrow. I caught myself at one point thinking that it was like reading a Dr Who/POTC crossover fanfiction.
I didn’t quite get where the vampires or zombies fitted into the story either, apart from that first episode with the blindness. I don’t know if there are later stories coming where they play a bigger part, but they were entirely superfluous to this plot.
On the whole I guess it was okay. I read it all and left feeling fond of the characters, but I don’t think I’d buy the other books in this set.