Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
Published by: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Release date: February 9th 2016
Source: Edelweiss ARC
Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.
Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.
Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England?
From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
How to start my review? Blackhearts is YA historical novel set in 17th century England and while writing wasn't outstanding, story itself kept me hooked. I have a lot to say about Blackhearts - a good and a bad. Let's get to the bottom of it.
NO EMOTIONAL CONNECTION
Both main protagonists are unhappy with their current life situation. Anne is illegal child of dead merchant, was forced to work as maid in unpleasant environment and dreams of finding her extended family in West Indies. Edward "Teach" is heir to huge merchant business but he dreams of sea adventures on a ship instead of forced marriage and boring businesses that are his reality. Sadly, I didn't feel connected to neither of these characters and even though I was interested enough to finish Anne's and Edward's story, I didn't particularly care about them. They were both super judgmental, single-minded and there wasn't much depth to their characterization. Blackhearts is an example of a book in which author tells us instead of showing us how characters feel and I wasn't impressed by it.
I have to admit that I was disappointed that there was no action or adventure in this novel at all. Blackhearts is ordinary romance story set in 17th century England. I feel like I was misled by the synopsis which gives me adventurous vibe. I am probably the only one feeling this way and whoever wrote the synopsis maybe didn't even mean it to sound as adventurous book. But that was an impression I got from the blurb and I couldn't help but be disappointed by the lack of action.
Moreover, I went into this book as a standalone so I was very surprised by the non-ending. Blackhearts either has the lamest open-ending ever or author and publishers forgot to mention that it is going to be a series... Again, I was disappointed, felt misled and it affected my opinion about this book. Generally, I have nothing against whatever kind of cliffhangers. But I hate going into book thinking it's a standalone only to find out at the end that it is not.
Romance in Blackhearts wasn't a slow burn per se since it happened within couple of weeks. But what started as animosity between Anne and Edward, gradually turned into something different. Emphasis on gradually. I liked that very much about this book.
Heroine of this novel is half English half Indian girl. Such occurrence was a taboo in that particular part of English history. Add the fact that Anne is illegitimate child of rich merchant and a slave and you have perfect premise for serious topics. Racism, interracial relationships, prejudices, physical punishments. Take your pick, author touched all of that in this novel. And the fact that she didn't shy away from these topics and presented them for what they truly were was what appealed to me the most about this book.
All in all, Blackhearts is solid YA romance/drama with interesting historical setting. And even though it isn't a phenomenal novel, it is a good debut and I plan to read sequel (if there is one).