Black Heart of Jamaica by Julia Golding | Review

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I’ve been making my way through re-reading this series, one that I heartily enjoyed as young teen and I wanted to re-read it and see what I thought about it some years later. And, as I found with the former books in this series, I’m still enjoying them just as much as I did when I first read them. I also recently learned that this series is actually marketed as young adult whereas I always considered it to be middle grade. But, in this book in particular, you can really see why this book series is young adult because this book does have a lot of serious themes, such as piracy, slavery and some serious illnesses such as malaria. However, this book also carries the same humour and wit as the other novels and the same engaging and interesting characters too. I’m intrigued to see where this series finishes up because I can’t actually remember what happens!

In Jamaica, Cat and Pedro are disgusted to learn that slavery is still common and both are frightened and horrified when they discover that Pedro’s former owner, Mr Hawkins is in Jamaica. Mr Hawkins thinks that slavery is lawful and fair, and he still believes that Pedro belongs to him. He taunts Cat after her performance on stage and then finally kidnaps her. At his plantation Cat falls ill with malaria and while she is still delusional and sick Billy rescues her. He forces her to buy a slave which Pedro is disgusted at, but he soon learns to forgive Cat. In the end Cat gets involved in a slave revolt but Pedro tells her to leave, while he will stay and help his fellow men gain their rights of freedom and equality. Cat is heartbroken to leave Pedro alone but she knows she must, so she and Billy leave together.

Something that I’ve noticed about these books is that each one of the books takes place in a different place and all of the different places reflect some of the messages and tones within the book. So, of course, the extremely important part of history such as slavery is going to be discussed in Jamaica. I really enjoyed, as I always do, Julia Golding’s writing style because it is so engaging and vivid and realistic and you are able to truly immerse yourself in the world that she’s writing about. And even though these books are works of historical fiction, the feelings of the characters and their motives are still modern and real today and that is what makes the story seem so realistic. And, of course, you get to learn some new historical facts which, as a history buff, I always enjoy doing.

I can go on about the characters in this series until I’m blue in the face so I’m not going to labour the point that I really, really like all of the characters in this book. Of course, some of the characters are terrible people and you definitely wouldn’t want to come across them in an alley way on a dark night because you’d probably leave with a knife in your back. But all of the characters are complex and interesting and engaging and I particularly enjoyed the banter between Cat and Billy in this book. You can really see their emerging relationship in this book and how it’s changed from the beginning of the series where they were hard-out enemies. It’s the character development and relationship growth that really make these books entertaining, as well as the humour and historical references too.

I’d give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars because it was very entertaining and enjoyable to read, but the plot did lack a little bit sometimes and some of the scenes seemed to be a tad bit unrealistic.

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