Reviews /

Kintana and the Captain’s Curse

Authored by Susan Brownrigg
Published by UCLan Publishing


A pirate adventure set in Madagascar in 1733, full of amazing animal facts and a brave, resourceful female lead character. Kintana and the Captain’s Curse is based on a real pirate island which sat in the harbour mouth of the island of Nosy Boraha, four miles east of Madagascar in the eighteenth century.

Growing up on Pirate Island has given Kintana a burning desire to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a pirate herself. However, female crew members are considered bad luck and few ships will take them. Ever since her mother died, Kintana has been working alongside her ex-pirate father in his pet shop. Then, one day, after being mistaken for a boy, she is offered the post of cabin boy on board The Nine Sails and her adventure begins.

Once on board, Kintana quickly becomes embroiled in a suspicious plot involving the first mate and the cook. Rumours of the Captain’s Curse have the crew on edge and some claim that Blackbeard’s ghost stalks the deck of the ship, cursed to search for his treasure for all eternity. Meanwhile, Kintana makes herself useful by looking after the menagerie of animals on the ship and tries to help Bartholomew, a young crew member, as he struggles to answer some riddles set by the first mate. As the days go by, she starts to realise that life on a pirate ship is not all about adventure and treasure, but can be hard and dangerous, particularly when you aren’t sure who you can trust.

There are a lot of positive elements in this book which make it an interesting read. The main character, Kintana, is a resourceful female lead who uses her knowledge of the flora and fauna of Madagascar to solve a number of puzzles which help her and her companions out of several tricky and dangerous situations. The book is full of information about the lives of pirates and the wildlife of the area, both current and extinct, and this was included in a way that didn’t interrupt the narrative, but rather added to it by providing solutions to obstacles.

Initially, I found it hard to tell which age group the text was aimed at. The light portrayal of life aboard the pirate ship, where each of the pirates had their own pet for example, and the puzzles that Kintana was given to solve initially struck me as a book intended for the 5-8 age group, but the language and vocabulary were of a level for older children. As the book progresses, the pace and structure of the plot became more appropriately complex for children aged 8+. I found the second half of the book much more exciting and likely to keep older children engaged than the first part.

Kintana and the Captain’s Curse provides so much information about pirate life and the plants and animals of Madagascar that it could provide a good stimulus for further research into those topics. It would make a good story time book and a welcome addition to any school or class library.