Devil's Ballast

Devil's Ballast
Written by Meg Caddy
Historical, Pirates, #LoveOZYA
320 Pages
Published May 7th 2019
Thanks to Text Publishing
Add to Goodreads
★★★★★
Anne Bonny was eighteen when she ran away from her violent husband, James, into the arms of pirate captain Calico Jack Rackham. Now she’s ensconced aboard Jack’s ship Ranger, passing as a cabin boy and playing her ruthless part in a crew that is raining down mayhem and murder on the ships of the Caribbean. But James Bonny is willing to pay to get his property back. And pirate hunter Captain Barnet is happy to take his money. The Ranger’s a fast ship, Anne might just be able to outrun Barnet. But can she outrun the consequences of her relationship with Calico Jack?

Devil’s Ballast is action packed yet nuanced, culturally relevant and sharp as a cutlass. Based on the true story of Anne Bonny, this new novel by the remarkable Meg Caddy brings to life one of history’s most fascinating anti heroines.
As the dawn rises, Anne Bonny binds her breasts with bandages, pulls on her britches and prepares for another journey on board the Ranger, a pirate ship bound for the Carribbean. The crew believes Anne is a young man, small, intelligent and arrogant. The ocean doesn't welcome young women and women on board are abused, disgraced and often degraded. After escaping her violent husband, Anne is labelled an adulterer by the lawmakers of Nassau, a bounty offered for her capture by her volatile husband, furious that Anne was stolen away by infamous pirate Calico Jack, Jack Rackham.

Anne Bonny is remarkable. As a young woman, defying her father and marrying James Bonny, living in a small, ramshackle hut on the Nassau coast. Her husband begun to abuse her, stumbling home in a drunken, violent rage until Anne was presented with a lifeline, the handsome Calico Jack and despite the crew of the Ranger believing Anne was a slight boy of no more than fourteen, Anne and Jack became lovers on the open seas, pillaging merchant vessels and gaining notoriety.

Although her life can only be speculated upon, Anne Bonny is an incredible historical figure. Anne is portrayed as a young woman of incredible strength and conviction, exchanging an oppressive marriage for life as a marauder throughout the Caribbean. She's accused of adultery, a suspected sex worker and if she escapes execution, then she'll be returned to her violent husband who has employed a pirate hunter to capture his wife.

It was highly suspected that Anne Bonny was bisexual, involved in a romantic relationship with Mary Read, also known as Mark Read. Women were often abused during the Golden Age of Piracy, only valued as wives and caregivers by honourable men. Anne bound her breasts in bandages to conceal her gender with only Calico Jack enlightened that Andrew Bonny is female. When Anne is captured and kept prisoner, she befriends a passive, unassuming pirate, Read. Read suspects Anne is female and under the cover of darkness, they both escape. Read is a transgender man, binding his chest and in Devil's Ballast, identifies as male. Their friendship was beautiful, the two pirates are kindred spirits and sought solace in each others company. Although Anne is in a relationship with Calico Jack, she has infinitely greater chemistry and compatibility with Read.

A fictional account of the journey of Anne Bonny, Devil's Ballast is superbly entertaining and swashbuckling fun. Meg Caddy has captured the romantic essence of a ferocious and passionate heroine that will be remembered as a famed and sensationalised young woman. Remarkable reading.

14 comments

  1. This sounds like a fun mix of history and fiction! What a life she led!

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    1. Such a remarkable young woman. Pushing against male dominated environments by infiltrating as one of their own.

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  2. Ohh I love the sound of this. Pirates aren't usually my thing but a lady pretending to be a swashbuckling pirate sounds like fun. :D

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    1. It's such an entertaining read and I loved how the author portrayed Anne Bonny. She was totally fierce.

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  3. This sounds like so much fun! I'll definitely have to check it out!

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    1. It's amazing Jordan, looking forward to seeing what you think of it!

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  4. Your reviews never fail to make me want to pick up the book.
    This sounds so fun, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. One of my favourite reads this year, would love to see what you think of it!

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  5. Very cool! I had never heard of Ann Bonny and who doesn't like a swashbuckling adventure?!

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. We need more books featuring lady pirates and there's been a few during the golden age. Grace O’Malley was another fearsome female pirate. I'd love to see this turn into a series, it would be absolutely amazing!

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  6. I knew nothing about Anne Bony before this and now I really want to pick this book up. Sure, it's a fictional account but it sounds like an exciting account that I will definitely enjoy reading.

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    1. Her entire life is pretty much sensationalised and fictionalised, very little truth is known about her apart from her fierceness and endurance. I absolutely love strong historical women, Anne Bonny, Grace O'Malley and women like Rosa Parks, a black American woman who refused to give her seat on a bus to a white man, to trailblazer Amelia Earhart. We need more of these books, especially in young adult.

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  7. This book is new to me and I've never heard of Anne Bonny! It definitely sounds fantastic! I definitely might have to check this out.

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    1. I'd love to see what you think of it Tracy, it's absolutely captivating!

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