A swashbuckler set in the West Indies of the early 19th Century, THE WITCH FROM THE SEA is a love story, a coming-of-age adventure and an eccentric comedy of manners about a woman who runs with the pirates to free herself from the conventional "rules" of gender, race and class.

Tory Lightfoot, an orphan of mixed white and Mohawk blood, flees the stifling gentility of 1823 Boston for the freedom of the open sea. But the merchant ship on which she stows away is boarded by pirates off the coast of Cuba, and Tory is forced to join the pirate crew to save her life. Making herself useful as both log-keeper and spy, she begins to earn a measure of the independence she craves. But fate, fever and the relentless U. S. Navy West Indian Squadron close in, and Tory must risk her hard-won freedom to save the man she loves.
"I highly recommend this book to any lover of historical fiction."
— The Historical Novel Society Review
"The Witch From The Sea is that rare creation, an historical romance with guts as well as glamour. Wild-spirited Tory is an irresistible character."
— Nautical historian Joan Druett (She-Captains; Hen Frigates)
"I am in love with this book. A+."
Reading Rocks / YA Fiction Review

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


From Tory's Log~


My father's voice came thundering from the barn, tearing through the mild spring afternoon. "Why can't she stay on her own side of the Berkshires?"

He burst out of the barn and came barreling across the yard toward the open door to the kitchen, where I was helping Mama sort through a basket of herbs we had just picked from the garden. Papa's dusty work clothes were flapping around his long, lean frame, tiny sprigs of untended reddish frizz bouncing all about his high, pale forehead. Far behind him, still out in the yard, the boys were trotting along in his wake.

"What can she mean, coming all the way out here?" Papa fumed, vaulting up the back steps, his grey eyes flinty with irritation. "Ladies!" he hailed us; he seemed to cross the kitchen in one giant, agitated stride.  "Close ranks and prepare for a siege! It seems, Victoria," he added, to me, "that your Aunt Fiona has decided to pay us a call." Then he strode through the parlor and out onto the front porch, pulling the door shut behind him, as if he might yet protect us from this unexpected invasion.

I knew, vaguely, that my half-brothers had an Aunt Fiona who had cared for them when their own mama died, when Papa ran away from Boston. But I had never expected to meet her. It was as if Queen Guinevere, or Lady Macbeth, or some other fantastical person out of Papa's storybooks had come to call.

I looked at Mama, too awed to speak, but she only smiled and tossed her long black braids behind her shoulders as she stood up. Mama's hair was like the fine black silk the peddlers carried in their carts. Her skin was as soft and rich as plowed red earth, and her clear brown eyes sparkled now with intrigue. If she felt at all unequal to the arrival of Aunt Fiona, she didn't show it to me.

Then the boys tumbled in at the kitchen door. Josh, who was tall, slender, and fair, like our father, looked apprehensive, his mouth tight and silent. But rosy, freckle-faced Andy, the younger, was bursting with breathless information.

"I saw them coming up from the bend in the road," Andy panted.  "Even from there, I could tell it was Aunt Fiona, all done up in ribbons like a tent at the fair!"

"Well, we had better go and welcome her," Mama said, reaching for my hand. "We can't allow a guest to stand outside the door. I wonder what your father is thinking."

I felt her hands on my shoulders as she steered me gently out into the parlor, the boys following behind. When a flurry of voices outside and the hollow thud of footfalls indicated that the company had mounted the front porch, I saw Josh move to stand protectively beside Mama and me.

The door was suddenly thrown open, and in marched the most fabulous apparition I had ever seen in all my six years of life.