Seven Dead Pirates, by Linda Bailey

I am not fond of pirates, so the fact that I sincerely (really) enjoyed Seven Dead Pirates, by Linda Bailey (Tundra Books, September 2015) suggests to me that readers who do in fact actively seek out pirate book will enjoy it very much indeed! (with the caveat that the action takes place not on the rolling main but on dry land, with just a splash, as it were, of ocean adventure at the very end....)

When Lewis's mother inherits the old family house by the ocean, they have to live in it for six months before it can be sold.  His mom and dad are unenthusiastic; it's a bit of a fixer upper.  But Lewis loves the tower room he claims as his own...until he finds that it's occupied by seven dead pirates.  He agrees to help them get back to their ship (conveniently located in a nearby museum) and gradually overcomes his (very natural) fear and uncertainty, even coming to enjoy reading Treasure Island out loud to them.  It's not as if he has any other friends; his horrible shyness has seen to that, and he is bullied at school (along with at least half of this year's middle grade speculative fiction protagonists).

So Lewis comes up with a plan to take the pirate ghosts to the museum on Halloween, the one day that even if they turn visible (which they do under stress) people won't be all that consternated.  And in the meantime the pirates are a tricksy bunch, although they do end up helping Lewis grow in confidence....as does the arrival of a not quite but almost manic pixie dream girl at school, who can openly admit to wearing thrift store clothes and still be cool, who finds out about the pirates and is happy to visit them!

Things I liked--

--It's a great old house.  There was tension about whether it would be sold and demolished, but this was resolved.

--even though pirates aren't my first choice, this was a really interesting plot, and it worked well. Pirates and boy helped each other believably. 

--the magic is intergenerational; Lewis inherits the pirates, more or less, from his great-grandfather, and family history is a part of the story.

--there was a really cool kickass kindergarten girl who stood up to the bully on Lewis' behalf.  I really liked her!

So if "ghosts pirates" doesn't appeal, don't be off-put.  It's a fun, fast read, and I'm glad it was nominated for the Cybils, because I wouldn't have read it otherwise.  Although I am glad my own old house is ghost free....I wouldn't want to share my bedroom with them!


  1. I have this book on my TBR list and really hope I can get to it soon. It sounds really cute. I don't read a lot of fantasy, but this book has so much going for it, I will have to make an exception. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Oh fun, I snagged this a while back and actually really like pirates, so I'll have to make sure to fit it in :D


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