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

Friday, August 3, 2012


From Tory's Log~

Aunt Fiona was not as tall as Papa, or even Josh, but she was nearly a head taller than Mama—not counting her formidable bonnet. She had a regal bearing and a firmly set mouth that would tolerate very little nonsense. Her complexion seemed impossibly white to me, and her bright blue-grey eyes swept across our plain parlor from under a fringe of reddish curls.

But not even a layer of dust from the road would dare to dim the brilliance of her traveling costume. A purple plume quivered above the broad brim of her cream-colored bonnet, which fastened under her chin with a wide yellow ribbon. Her gown was a majestic sweep of lilac, with gold braid at the high, fitted bodice, and layers of filmy, pale yellow riff at the neck and wrists.

I had never seen such clothing before, not even in town. What sort of fairyland had she come from?

Aunt Fiona sailed into the room, shadowed at a safe distance by the wagon driver from town who was dragging along her heavy portmanteau.

"Set it there," she  commanded, pointing out a vacant corner. "And remember to come for me directly after breakfast in the morning. Should I miss my coach, you shall be required to  drive me all the way back to Boston. At no extra fare."

The driver paled and backed rapidly out of the room, muttering his "Yes'sm," and "No'ms." When he had fled and Papa closed the door behind him, Aunt Fiona turned her full attention to the rest of us.

"Well, Ewan, I knew that you had embraced the bucolic life, but here I find you dressed like a common laborer and your family in rags."

"This is a working farm, Fiona," Papa replied with elaborate patience. "We work."

"Ah. I suppose that is an excuse for your sons to forget their manners?"

"Boys, say hello to your Aunt Fiona," Papa sighed.

"Good afternoon, Honored Aunt," Josh murmured, and he stepped forward to bow slightly over her gloved hand. Aunt Fiona nodded back, but as Josh retreated, she narrowed her eyes at him.

"Well, Josiah, I see you're nearly as tall as your father. And no doubt picking up all his bad habits, without my guidance."

"With any luck," Josh breathed, head down, but so softly that only Mama and I could hear him. I thought I saw Mama quickly swallow a smile.

"Hello, Honored Aunt!" Andy was taking his turn greeting our guest, standing forward to shake hands.

"Slowly, Andrew," Aunt Fiona instructed, before consenting to graze his hand with the fingertips of her cream-colored glove. "Like a little gentleman, not a hooligan. You are twelve years old, now."

As Andy fell back, Ant Fiona at last allowed her bright gaze to rest squarely on Mama and me. It was impossible to guess what she saw when she did.