13290203Reviewed by Kathie Smith

Magic Marks the Spot (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1) by Caroline Carlson is a fun, laugh-out-loud enjoyable read! Hilary Westfield has been training her whole life to be a pirate (she can hold her breath under water for thirty-seven minutes!) and is overjoyed to receive an invitation to join The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates, aka VNHLP, in response to her application. Unfortunately, they have mistaken her for a boy and is told in no uncertain terms that girls are not allowed. She thinks this is absolute nonsense and is determined to prove herself as a completely competent pirate.

She takes a chance that her father will be sympathetic to her plight and goes to him for help, but as Admiral of the Augusta Royal Navy, he finds it completely inappropriate and immediately enrolls her in Miss Pimm’s Finishing School for Delicate Ladies. Hilary is horrified at the thought and determined to make an escape and packs appropriately. Although he is quite heavy, she makes the wise decision to haul her magic gargoyle along with her as well. Magical elements abound to make this an even more enchanting story.

From here Hilary begins her a fantastical journey on the high seas in search of treasure. The events and antics that ensue are remarkably imaginative and exciting. She meets an amusing variety of characters along the way and discovers the astonishing truth about who the bad guy really is. The revelation of the bad guy’s identity has the potential to take this book from fun-loving to quite serious and dark, but Carlson makes a smart choice to continue the whimsical and carefree spirit of the Hilary’s quest. Magic Marks the Spot (The VNHLP #1) allows fun and adventure to take center stage without going in any dark, overly-serious, directions.

The continuous charm and hilarity make this a book that children and parents alike will surely put on their list of favorites. It is directly in line with its targeted demographic of children 8-12 or, tweens, who can navigate this chapter book well on their own. It is also a perfect choice for parents and children to share a countless laughs while reading together. Magic Marks the Spot (The VNHLP #1) has everything it needs to be a strong stand-alone book, but knowing this is the first in a series is certain to bring restless anticipation for more of Hilary’s wondrous adventures!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Kathie is a writer, wife, mother and volunteer living in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Her passion for the written word is fulfilled by creating her own fictional work, freelancing, acting as an adviser to another author, and reading with her six year old daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperCollins. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.