Friday 21 May 2021

A review of 'The Ship of Shadows'.

Mystery and Adventures in Middle Grade reading. Reviews brought to you by Erin the Cat.

This week we review:-

The Ship of Shadows, By Maria Kuzniar 


Hello and welcome back to the blog. 

After a hefty hiatus, and by that I don't mean all the pounds and kilos Mrs H has piled on during lockdown, we have finally burst free from the covid induced hiding under the duvet, with a review of a most wonderful book.

I recently finished reading books 1 & 2 in the Strangeworlds Travel Agency series by acclaimed author L.D. Lapinski (more on these great books in another review) and found myself with a massive void to fill in my reading life. So I instructed Mrs H to hunt through through Amazon for something exciting and flavoursome that I could dive into. 

Alas, she bought a saucepan! I tweeted about my woes at her apparent ineptitude, and possible need for new glasses, and was rewarded by L.D. Lapinski herself recommending to us The Ship of Shadows.

And most grateful I am too, as this has proven to be a delightful adventure.

So enough of the pre-amble, heres the review!

The Ship of Shadows, by Maria Kuzniar.

The adventure starts in Seville, Spain, in the early part of the 1700's, 1715 to be precise. Here we meet Aleja, a twelve-year-old who would rather seek adventure and trips to foreign countries than do what other girls her age are expected to do. Teased and bullied for wanting to follow her dreams, she spends her nights on the city's rooftops. There she dreams, studies the stars, and reads books about the famous pirates, explorers and adventurers: Columbus and Thomas James, to name but two.

One night Aleja spots a mysterious, cannon-fire damaged ship slip silently into port under cover of darkness. When she realises the ship belongs to the long-missing, presumed dead explorer, Thomas James, her interest is more than aroused. Piecing together what she has read, this ship has to be the infamous Ship of Shadows, a pirate ship feared by men and said to be crewed by a band of merciless pirate women. The ship is also said to be haunted by the ghosts of the sailors they have killed. She is keen to know more. After all, these are women who are defying the expectations of their gender and living a life of adventure Aleja can only dream of. Who wouldn't want to at least see if the tales were true?

Whilst following one of the women from the crew, she discovers, quite by chance, smuggled gold coins on the dock - counterfeit coins. Caught with a coin in her hand, she manages to escape from the gang. If she tells the authorities, the penalty for them will be death. The sentence for being accused of being a thief is public flogging. The smugglers give chase, intent on retrieving the coin and branding her a thief. Aleja runs because who would believe a twelve-year-old over the leader of the gang who is a prominent landlord. 

Now, through twists and turns, she comes a cropper and is caught. And so begins probably the best adventure of its kind I have read in many a year, and worthy to sit beside Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, the Arabian Nights tales, and Jules Verne's adventures. I know these are big names to compare against, but this is a big-hearted story in the same vein. 

What I really liked.

An excellent and varied supporting cast of personalities that are not cut and dried, and evolve with the story. No adventure would be complete without villains, and this has the looming threat of a key antagonist, a pirate hunter with a grudge. Of course, there are fantastic monsters, too, monsters that I think Jules would have been proud of and punctuate the story just at the right moments! Mrs H says she'll never be going to the seaside again without some serious backup!

Did I mention the ship itself? Well, that is more fun and secrets buried within its timbers than Hogwarts.

Which sort of leads me to a question I have increasingly been asking myself as I read more and more Middle-Grade adventures. Would I take this over JK Rowling's Harry Potter series, given this is the first book? The answer is an emphatic YES. Both have their merits, but this has a kind of spark that goes deeper and wider and stretches the enquiring mind more. Maybe that is just us, but Mrs H and I both felt that we had been transported away with this book.

Now I won't spoil any more for you; that really would not be fair for what is a wonderful tale.

The second instalment of this beautiful adventure, called The 'Secrets of the Stars', is released 8th of July 2021. We are hoping to buy a copy of this as soon as released and will do a review for you.

If you know some budding adventurer (of whatever age) who would love a great read, then please do consider ordering from your local independent book shop. In this day and age, they all deserve our business.

I can't leave without saying just how nice the book cover is. In fact, it has two front covers, all glossy and exciting.


Inner front cover.


And here is the back cover.

Back cover .

Well that's it from me this week. I hope you enjoyed this review. As to the the saucepan, Mrs H says that whilst it is exceptionally good, it isnt as good as this book. Mrs H said she'll do a review of the pan later. 

The Ship of Shadows is published by Puffin Books, part of Penguin Random House. 

Tune in next time when we will be reviewing one of my favourites: Max the Detective Cat, by Sarah Todd Taylor!



Erin the cat: Addicted to Mice Mystery and Adventure!


  1. Welcome back to the blogosphere Erin, we missed your posts, and thanks for such a pawesome review, this is one or two we'll definitely be adding to the library! XX

  2. Wha... Wha... Wh wh wha wha what? It takes place in SEVILLE? I'm sold. MOUSES!

    1. I thought you might be, dear friend. It does go elsewhere too, but so far no mention of catnip ;)

  3. It's nice to see you Princess, we've been missing you! That was a terrific review, thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. Thanks, Brian. Few more weeks and Mrs H will have had all her shots! Rabies excluded. . .

  5. Erin! It's so great to see you again! Thanks for the book review. The mom is always looking for a good book to read so she'll put this one on her list.

  6. Hello, Princess Erin! Welcome back! We have missed you lots.

    We enjoyed your great review, and now we really want to read this book.

    Hugs to you and Mrs. H!


    I want to the book.

    Is it on AMAZON?


  8. Amazon won't send it to me! Bother it. I must check other options!!

  9. Hello Erin we are sure glad to see you and what a fine review! You and Mrs H are well we purr.

  10. HEY PRINCESS ERIN!!!! OMD/OMC have you been missed my furiend! And what a FABulous book and review!!! I'm gonna tells Ma to gets that for me! I am glads that you and Mrs. H are doin' well, and are not as plump as Ma...BOL!!!! (don't tells her I said that, k?)
    Have a FABulous week, and don't do anythings I wouldn't do...🤣
    Ruby ♥

  11. ERin; it bee grate ta see yur gorgeouz self bak on yur blog; we mizzed ewe....we hope thiz findz everee one happee N healthee & chillaxin and N joyin plentee oh mice with creem ore even
    vice a verza !!!

    we will hafta chex out thiz book; if it can top de HP haz ta bee good :) ☺☺♥♥♥

  12. We missed you two! And we always love your book reviews.

  13. Oh my golly ......her little ♥ nose is so adorable.

    Don't worry ..........Giroux would never be for sale. He is well love and much spoiled around here. We just like to tease him a little bit when he is "naughty".

  14. Erin! My LOVE!
    I am so furry happy that you are back! I am so sorry I have been slow to get here though. We don't get emails from blogs we stops and visits and I have been totally remiss in clicking my favorite Lady Cat's LINK! I must also blame my human. Mom has been occupied with painting, sanding, scraping, scrubbing etc as she (as an old decrepit woman) tries to paint the house. At the rate she is going we won't have the painting done until Christmas. Please forgive me. This book sounds like a cracking great adventure. I must lay my claws on it! Oh I was so happy to see a post! Sending you many whisker kisses - YOUR Marv!

  15. Another great review, ERin. We bet you keep Mrs. H on her toes!

  16. Hi, Erin! We came by to say hello because you haven't popped up in our Feedly in a while. We hope you and your dad are doing well.

  17. I love Seville!! Been there twice so will definitely pick up the book!hope you had a great 4th of July

  18. Oh Princess, my visit here is very belated. I blame that I my human, as she seems less punctual and more absent of mind the older she gets. Tee hee hee. A splendid review you have paw penned. It does sound like that is a read that mustn't go drifting off to sea, but one that should port in my paws. Tee hee hee. Afterall, what kitty doesn't like a great adventure story! Wink wink, nose kisses, and head nuzzles for you, my Tuxie dove. -Your Prince

  19. Oh Princess, my visit here is very belated. I blame that I my human, as she seems less punctual and more absent of mind the older she gets. Tee hee hee. A splendid review you have paw penned. It does sound like that is a read that mustn't go drifting off to sea, but one that should port in my paws. Tee hee hee. Afterall, what kitty doesn't like a great adventure story! Wink wink, nose kisses, and head nuzzles for you, my Tuxie dove. -Your Prince

  20. Oh! How did We miss your return?!
    This looks like a really exciting book!

  21. It's good to see you. Nice report too

  22. Erin, it's been awhile since we've had a new post from you; you are missed!
    Check in sometime, so we know you and yours are okay.

  23. Hope all is well, Purrincess, we haven't seen you for a long time🙏Pawkisses for a Happy Healthy Week ahead🐾😽💞