Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. She can tread water for thirty-seven minutes. She can tie a knot faster than a fleet of sailors, and she already owns a rather pointy sword.
There’s only one problem: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates refuses to let any girl join their ranks of scourges and scallywags.
But Hilary is not the kind of girl to take no for answer. To escape a life of petticoats and politeness at her stuffy finishing school, Hilary sets out in search of her own seaworthy adventure, where she gets swept up in a madcap quest involving a map without an X, a magical treasure that likely doesn’t exist, a talking gargoyle, a crew of misfit scallywags, and the most treacherous—and unexpected—villain on the High Seas.
Once upon a time, I considered myself a huge fan of YA books, with a smattering of MG thrown in. However, as time has gone on, I’ve realized that I’m actually a bigger fan of MG than I am YA in some cases; I love the entertainment factor found in the books’ pages, the fact that the characters aren’t focused on romance (no love triangles here!), and the inclusion of a character who is usually completely awesome and amazing. Magic Marks the Spot is another book that pretty much accomplishes all three of those things, although there is a teeny tiny bit of romance that isn’t really central to the plot at all and therefore impossible to be irritating in any way to the reader. What I really enjoyed about this book was the adventure found throughout the story; there’s intrigue and danger and political shenanigans, and it all came together in a thrilling and extremely enjoyable way.
My main love of this book was our main character, Hilary, and her gargoyle sidekick. Hilary is full of wit and charm, and I just loved her steadfast desire to be a pirate at all costs. I also adored the fact that the pirates in this book weren’t terrible in the slightest, despite their names and swashbuckling ways. She is joined by her former governess, who is just as awesome in her own way, trying to make sure Hilary remains a lady – or at least, a sort-of-lady – and won’t let her rush off with the pirates without a chaperone. Hilary is especially strong to buck tradition and follow her heart, and I just loved her determination and strength.
While there is some danger in this book, it was heavily interspersed with moments of humor, including character interactions, letters to the VNHLP (Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates), and various correspondences between other characters. There was hardly a page that went by that didn’t warrant at least a smile from me; I didn’t want to stop reading this book simply because of how much fun I had with it and the joy it brought me. I think that’s very much a quality that MG literature has, that quirky humor with heartfelt story lines and characters, and this book just excelled at it. I just adored every single second I spent in its pages.
If you’re looking for a new MG series to try – or just want a book that will make you feel good and provide a few hours of honest enjoyment – do give this book a read. I guarantee that you will find at least one thing to love, and will most likely fall in love with all of the characters and pirate hijinks. I cannot wait to see what comes next in this series, and see what other adventures Hilary and her pirate mates get to experience!