Blog Tour · Book Review

Review: The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

The SHIP of SHADOWS_final

It is such a delight to read a book that completely captures the child-like desire to see the world, to travel, to experience things for the first time and to run away with female pirates who eat cake. This whole story was such a pleasure to read from start to finish.

Title: The Ship of Shadows The Ship of Shadows
Author: Maria Kuzniar
Pages: 288
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: 16th July 2020
Ownership: e-ARC

Rating: 4.5 stars


Aleja is a girl who dreams of adventure. By day, she helps in her family’s tavern in Sevilla, Spain. By night she explores the city, stealing books from the library and learning about the great explorers and adventurers of the world. More than anything, she wants to sail away and see it all for herself. Even if girls can’t be explorers. 

But when the Ship of Shadows sails into port, she has her chance. Crewed by an all-female band of pirates that bristle with weapons and secrets, Aleja is roped into joining just one adventure on this magical ship …

I mean, if that rough summary doesn’t do it for you, I don’t know what does. This is just genuinely delightful, honest and happy writing that makes you so excited for Aleja’s adventure, and for whatever comes next!

Aleja has perhaps a little too much ‘spinach’ – she’s pretty good at anything she sets her mind to, and copes remarkably well with the transition from a world where there is no magic, to one where it pours off the bulkheads. But I didn’t really mind that. She is also young, and stubborn and sharp and clever. She’s the slightly rash heroine you want to follow.

I would have loved to find out more about the backstories and characters of the rest of the crew, bit by bit, but I’m excited to think that there could be an opportunity for that in the future. But we get to know Frances, who can steal anything, climb anything and eat any cake. The galley isn’t all hard tack and gruel either – crewed by women from all over Europe, the food represents that too. The first mate is tough and steely, the captain is mysterious but with that maternal air of someone you just want to impress. It’s a really delightful balance of characters.

What I LOVED about it this book though was the obvious and very genuine passion for travel. Not just in a ‘drop in be a tourist’ way but in a very heartfelt and interested way – the descriptions of buildings, culture and food are not just padding, instead they are informative and interesting. There are words and phrases from different languages (French, Arabic, Spanish) that are inserted into the story without feeling like they’re being shoe-horned in. I especially liked that Aleja always refers to Seville as Sevilla, rather than by its English name – because she’s Spanish! Why wouldn’t she?

The ship itself is the most magical, fantastical place. It really is where your imagination can run riot, from libraries to waterfalls to caves to shadows. I would have loved to know more about the why and the how of the magic here. But, just like Aleja, I’m prepared to be delighted and amazed by it. The level of fast-paced creativity and adventure in this book is just outstanding.

It’s a little bit Carmen Sandiego and a little bit Tintin and I am ALL FOR THAT.

Can someone find me some young readers that I can gift this book to???

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley, the publisher and as part of The Write Reads blog tour in exchange for an honest review.


7 thoughts on “Review: The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

  1. Oh this sounds adorable! Gonna pop it on to the birthday list for my niece. I love buying books for her ☺️☺️

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s