I am a big fan of Jacky Faber. Big fan. The Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer hits all my Happy Grinning Reader buttons: historical fiction in a credible world you can practically smell, characters you feel you know in real life, gripping narrative, humor…it’s all here. And there’s Jacky: the girl who has a remarkable natural talent for everything except table manners, and who seems to have done (and survived) just about everything, too. Jacky has a heart as big as all outdoors, she does, and she’ll charm that silly grin I always wear in her presence onto *your* face, too, faster than she can pull out her beloved pennywhistle and start dancing up a storm (that is, until she gets arrested for public indecency).
The books are written in first-person, primarily in Jacky’s highly distinctive voice, although other characters occasionally get to write her a letter (often at wits’ end, since those who care about her regularly do not know where she is or what fate she may have met with this time). The storytelling is irresistible, at least for my tastes, and has you traveling all over the European-known world of the early 19th century. Just by taking her chances as she sees ’em, Jacky becomes a street urchin, a sailor non-pareil, a pirate (pardon me, a privateer), a racing jockey, a card-sharp, a reluctant spy, a deep-sea diver, and proprietress of Faber Shipping Worldwide, among many other things.
If you do not love Jacky Faber, I believe I have good reason to shake my head over you, and possibly wag my finger. These are published as Young Adult fiction, and you will find them in the Teen/YA section of your library or book store, but really, everyone who loves a good yarn and a breathtakingly fun female character (character of any gender) should be reading. Run right now and get them for yourself!
And the best part is that we have her on audio. Katherine “Katy” Kellgren is a marvel and a gift to the reading universe for her voicing of Jacky, and all the other characters and accents, too. May she be blessed a thousand times over for this amazing body of work. I have listened to all the books in the series except the latest, thanks to library downloadables (yay!), and I hadn’t actually “read” any of them in print until I recently got my hands on a copy of The Wake of the Lorelei Lee. I hope that L.A. Meyer, and Kellgren, won’t stop providing us with Jacky fixes until our heroine is well into old age. I can’t wait to see what she does next.