The Black Banner by Helen Hart (June 2011, SilverWood Books, ISBN: 1906236461)
Notes: The following review is written by Amanda Gillies who reviews crime fiction on my Euro Crime website. You can read her crime reviews here and her YA reviews here.
Review: The Black Banner follows the nautical adventures of Billy Baxter and friends as they journey from England to the Caribbean in search of their fortunes. Billy has a secret. His real name is Becky, not Billy, and "he" is a girl. A girl dressed up as a boy and working as a deckhand on a merchant ship bound for pastures new. Becky has run away from drunken old Ma and her unpleasant friends, from the cold and damp room they lived in and from the dirt and poverty that were threatening to swamp her.
Becky lives in almost constant fear of being discovered – but then finds out there is something worse than living with Ma – being attacked by pirates! Becky, or Billy, survives the attack, joins the fearsome band of blade-swinging buccaneers and finds her life changing yet again. She has some pretty cool experiences as she learns to fight and survive and then plunders her way around the Caribbean with her fellow pirates, filling her sea-chest with gold along the way.
Filled with excitement and adventure, The Black Banner is written in the first person, by Becky herself, in the form of her private journal, and is brimming with her bravery, determination and hope for the future. She makes some great friends on her travels, including other women pirates, but also comes face to face with the potential dangers that pirates face every day, when the legal system doubles its efforts to crack down on the threats facing honest merchants at sea.
What an awesome, heart-warming tale!
Very highly recommended.