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The Ship of Shadows

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Aleja whiles away her days in her family's dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she's only ever read about in books. After all, she's always being told that girls can't be explorers.

But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.

Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja's strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates - and discover what they are risking everything to find.

288 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 16, 2020

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About the author

Maria Kuzniar

4 books64 followers
Maria Kuzniar spent six years living in Spain, teaching English and travelling the world, which inspired her debut novel The Ship of Shadows. Now she lives in Nottingham with her husband, where she reads and writes as much as she can and bookstagrams at @cosyreads. She is always planning her next adventure.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 217 reviews
Profile Image for Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction).
445 reviews6,752 followers
July 15, 2020
I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher. This in now way influences my opinion of the book.

*Rated 4.5/5 stars

Despite being a new middle grade book, this book somehow hit me with all the nostalgia. It felt like one of the children's TV adventure shows I used to watch, with kids trying to complete some kind of heist before their time ran out. It was action-packed, full of high stakes and lighthearted banter, and was genuinely just a joy to read.

I loved following this all-female pirate crew on a magical ship. The magic itself revolving around shadows, it was so interesting reading about how it tied with legends and storytelling, linking together the importance of it all. One of my favourite themes in a book is for it to weave together magic and storytelling, so that just hit the mark for me immediately. But I haven't read anything like the shadow magic on the ship, so it was fun to learn about such a unique concept.

This book is a just a bundle of fun. The characters are great, the feel realistic, and you never know what's around the corner. Adventuring across land and sea, this is a story that can take you far while in the comfort of your own home.
Profile Image for Gavin Hetherington.
673 reviews5,465 followers
June 24, 2020
Hear ye! Hear ye! This is the best pirate book I've ever read. Period.

Aleja has always dreamed of being an explorer, so when the fabled Ship of Shadows docks in her home town, she is suddenly whisked away on an adventure across the high seas! Aleja joins an all-female crew aboard the ship, soon finding herself on a quest that will push her to her limits. With lost cities, krakens and cut-throat pirates galore, this middle grade fantasy adventure is PERFECT for fans of Pirates of the Caribbean and The Polar Bear Explorers' Club!

I've been searching across the high seas myself looking for a book to quench my pirate thirst, and like hidden treasure, I found it in The Ship of Shadows! With a strong protagonist and a likeable crew of characters, I couldn't stay away from the story for long, and now I CRAVE a follow-up. SO MUCH HAPPENS and I need to see what else is in store for our pirates! The rich detail in every nook and cranny of the places that are explored just adds to this new world. Not only will you sail a ship, but you'll also cross the desert on the back of a camel and the writing makes you FEEL like you're right there on that journey too.

Maria Kuzniar writes such an engrossing, fast-paced adventure that it hards to imagine she's just a rookie. There were moments this book made me a nervous wreck with all the action scenes that occur, and I'll make you walk the plank if you don't buy this book. This book is also wonderful at allowing me to use some pirate puns for my review! AARRRRRRR!!!
July 23, 2020
3.5 exotic stars

Pirates, ghosts, kraken, and treasures - a sea adventure alluring with thrills, sure to sweep young readers off their seats and into mysterious, exotic lands laced with secrets to explore and captivate.

Aleja has always dreamed of adventure. When she spends time on the rooftops of Seville, Spain looking over the market and out onto the horizon over the ocean, she imagines traveling to far and distant lands, something girls don't ever get to do.

“Poor Aleja, she’d captain a ship in a heartbeat if she could! her father said chortling.”

One day, Aleja overhears the conversation of sailors about two ships gone down in flames and she becomes swept up into the entanglement.

“…and the Fury is the worst of the lot,’ the first man grumbled. ‘He’d decimate half the seas if he had the chance.’

…I hear it’s crewed by woman,’ the first man was saying, while the other guffawed. ‘Imagine.’ ‘It’s bad luck to have a woman on a ship,’ It is,’ the other added seriously.”

Her dreams may finally come true after all, as she finds herself on said ship surrounded by ghosts and among an all-female crew. Her ability to read and translate texts of different languages makes her an essential person after just a little while. While she becomes good friends with her mates, she is also beginning sword training and learning the ropes of the ship. As she learns of the secrets and ghosts that travel among them, the crew will prepare to unearth missing secrets to complete the mission of the captain.

As the adventure takes them from Spain to Africa and they encounter dangers along the way, readers will be swept from secret doors and rooms on the ship to dangerous creatures by the sea and hair raising adventure through markets and temples on land.

An exotic read deeply seared in roots of piracy and historical elements, the scope of their travels takes on amazing heights, sights, and mystery. Clever and culminating in a bombshell in the final moments of the plot, this novel projects a smart and strong main female protagonist with high values on bonds of friendship.

A beautiful book that will captivate young dreamers and imagineers, guaranteed.

I received a copy of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, thanks to the publisher.

All opinions are my own.

*Quotes taken from an advanced reader copy, subject to change.

More of my reviews here:
Through Novel Time & Distance
Profile Image for Теодор Панов.
Author 4 books128 followers
July 31, 2022
„The Ship of Shadows“ се оказа точно това, което очаквах да бъде – свежо, неангажиращо и приятно лятно четиво. Съвсем категорично мога да кажа, че това е една от най-добрите нови детски фентъзи книги, които съм чел в последно време.

Страниците ни отвеждат на едно вълнуващо морско пътешес��вие на пиратски кораб, изпълнено с редица предизвикателства. От Севиля до бреговете на Мароко, Маракеш, пустинята Сахара и митичния изгубен град Зерзура. Хареса ми много!

Оценка: 4.95

Profile Image for TheEuphoricZat.
1,160 reviews34 followers
July 25, 2020
The Ship of Shadows has rekindled my love for Middle-grade books. Honestly, after reading so many young adult and adult fantasy, this is a breath of fresh air. Here we follow thirsty-for-adventure Aleja who is caught between her love for exploration and her family after she finds herself on board of the whispered about “Ship of Shadows”. Accidently finding counterfeit coins which is a punishable crime, the counterfeiters are bend on catching her and making such she doesn’t talk. She is rescued by an English woman she met earlier in the market. Aleja’s thirst for adventure made her learn new languages and English was one that came easily to her. Taken on board in hopes to hide out from the people after her but what she doesn’t expect is to wake on with the ship in the middle of the ocean far away from her home
She wakes up panicked and she searches for the book she found earlier which had sparked the interest of the captain, Elizabeth. Aleja later finds an inkling that the book might be a key to the secrets of the ship. Along with other members of the crew, she tries to find out what they were seeking and the secrets they hide on this ship that is ghosted by pirates of the past. She is drawn between staying as the crew's linguist or returning home to her family's tavern. I appreciate the diversity that was in this book. I rarely see that a lot in middle grade except recently with the Rick Riordan Present where there is a lot of books from different cultures.

The Ship of Shadows reveals a seaside Spanish city and you can also feel how bustling the city was, the writing was really simple and easy to read (I guess that part of what makes it a good middle grade read). She joins the crew and they travel across the seas, from the docking city to the Sahara desert to disappearing stairs and to the cave of wonders where a piece of their treasure map lay. This is a journey that Aleja couldn't miss.
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,275 reviews280 followers
July 15, 2020
(Review copy provided by NetGalley, this review is part of The Write Reads blog tour. My review is unbiased.)
My Blog

The only way to describe this book is fun. Because it is so fun. Aleja has dreamed of being an explorer her whole life, reading every book she can find in her town's library. When she's accused of stealing she finds herself escaping onto a Pirate ship crewed by women, and starts solving a years old mystery.

This had such feminist Pirates Of The Caribbean vibes. There's a magical ship with shadowy figures lurking in every corner, a massive library, a grumpy ghost that lives in a globe, secret caves and lots and lots of cake. The crew seemed to be constantly on the move from one place to the next, encountering busy cities, long desert treks and learning how to sit on a camel properly.

This is the first in the series, I'm not sure if it's a duology or more, but the story lends itself to many more sequels as we only searched for once piece of the map in this book. I already pre-ordered this and can't wait to more books to my shelf, I'm hoping we visit many different places - there was one mention of the aurora borealis that I would love to travel to with Aleja.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
Author 68 books955 followers
June 25, 2020
Ohhhh this line from Ship of Shadows: "She knew in her bones that somewhere, somehow, there had been other girls like her. Girls who yearned so badly, so deeply, for adventure and excitement that it churned inside them. And they had grown up to become *pirates.*"

This MG fantasy adventure is so cozy and magical and full of absolute delight. I loved the e-ARC I got to read, and I've preordered the paperback edition to cherish and re-read with my kids! This book will resonate with every kid or adult who's ever yearned for a place where they can fit. The magic is lovely, the empowerment is delicious, and I love the whole cast of female pirates on adventure. SO much fun!
Profile Image for giulia ♡❁ུ۪.
370 reviews235 followers
July 11, 2020
Thank you Netgalley and Puffin a lot for this Arc.

Wow wow wow, this book, this book! I absolutely adored this one. If you're a fan of pirate book, especially pirates of the caribbean, you will enjoy this one a ton!
I was ingrossed in the story since page one, and that feeling didn't stop until the last one.

Aleja always wanted to see the world, all her life she's been told that girls can't do that, she joins an adventure all on her own and well - a fantastic crew of all female pirates that you won't help but adore - especially Frances. I absolutely adored this little thief. She stole my heart and my soul.

I loved following this journey. You not only will be on a fantastic magical ship, but you will go in the desert, going in crazy adventures sit on a camel and maybe realizing that friends can be family too!

I loved the settings. From Sevilla to Morocco, the descriptions were incredible. It felt like watching a travel documentary while being surrounded by friends and magic.

I also appreciated how cultural diverse each girl is, And each and everyone of them offers something unique to the group. I didn't see some twists coming at all and I really hope this becomes a series, because I need to see their next travel.

I recommend this so much. Definitely one of the best middle grade I've ever read and Maria Kuzniar captures you with her rich descriptions and really well crafted characters. (less)
Profile Image for Thibault Busschots.
Author 3 books36 followers
March 21, 2023
Aleja is a bookish girl, longing for adventure. Adventure heard her knocking on the door and the ship of shadows comes to swoop her away. On that magical pirate ship, she goes from one adventure to another. She faces the kraken, a pirate hunter, goes looking for a mythical lost city and more.

One thing which really stood out to me were the characters. It’s an all-female pirate crew and they’re all fleshed out pretty well. Aleja’s inquisitive mind in particular is a joy to read and she really feels like someone kids can connect with.

The plot had all the elements to make this an incredible book though the execution could have been better. We move from one adventure to another without a real explanation, especially in the beginning. The mystery of the ship itself is very well set up though the pirate hunter for example could have been set up better. He is introduced in a flash and we’re not really given a reason to care about him or to see him as an actual threat to the pirate crew. The pacing also kept the plot from hooking me as the story does slow down in between action scenes, though never enough to snap you out of the magical story.

There is a lot to love about this book. The premise is very creative, the characters are amazing and the plot has a lot of very good parts. It’s a pretty neat pirate adventure story for kids and adults who are still kids at heart.
Profile Image for ThatBookGal.
668 reviews88 followers
May 27, 2020
The Ship of Shadows is the kind of book you would want to place in any child's hands. It's full of adventure and magic, but it's also filled with strong female characters and a reminder that women can fill roles that are traditionally depicted as always male (e.g pirates). Personally I was never interested in the roles signed to women. I didn't want to be a princess or a damsel in distress, I wanted to be a pirate or an astronaut or a knight in shining armour. Books like this are so important to break down those barriers that still exist from a young age.

I loved the idea of the magic ship, and all the wondrous things that occurred because of its magic. It was such a fun idea, coupled with a lot of traditional pirate ideas (rum, missing limbs, lots of cutlasses etc). There were also plenty of monsters along the way.

I found the book a little slow at times, and perhaps a little too wordy, which is why I've gone with a 3 star rating. But I know this is one that others will love, and it'll capture the imagination of the audience that it's written for.
Profile Image for clem.
520 reviews370 followers
May 23, 2020
Profile Image for Pris.
421 reviews304 followers
June 9, 2020
This book is EVERYTHING I love about middle grade books. From the first page I absolutely fell in love with feisty Aleja. A few chapters later I fell in love with Francis and the rest of the crew. The ship is SO unique. The adventure, the magic, the exploring, the atmosphere!! 😱 How could you not fall head over heels for this book?

Profile Image for Lili  Marcus.
715 reviews405 followers
September 7, 2020
This one really surprised me and it's the kind of book that I know I will reread someday. The characters are amazing. I love Aleja. She's a badass and also relatable. I think most of us have dreamed of adventures like her. The plot is well-crafted. I love every second of the story and was left wanting more when I was done reading. But the best thing about this book is the world-building. The author has created such rich, beautiful fantasy world. There's a vivid picture in my head of this fantasy world.

Overall, a well-written book that promises pure enjoyment.
Profile Image for Sammie.
424 reviews39 followers
August 1, 2020
You can read my full review on my blog, The Bookwyrm's Den, here.

Many thanks to The Write Reads and Penguin for a copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review and for inclusion on this blog tour.

Pirates = Good.

Female pirates = Great.

A whole magic ship full of female pirates = Must read.

Ship of Shadows is a charming, cozy adventure filled with both heart and danger. It’ll transport the reader to far-away countries, across dangerous seas, and all with the comfort of some charming female bonding and found family.

I think I’m in the minority in that I didn’t love this book. I did enjoy it, though, and the most important part: even though my adult brain struggled with it, I think children would love this. Younger me would have, for sure, and I can think of quite a few kids at my library who would, because it fits neatly into that wish fulfillment niche that is especially unique to middle grade readers.

My Thoughts:

- The world-building in this is immersive, and will take readers to various different countries and introduce them to diverse cultures. In a sneaky way that is sure to catch young readers’ attention, without having them rolling their eyes at having to actually … ugh … learn something. I loved how smoothly different cultures were introduced in the narrative, and I learned several things I hadn’t known, too, and was excited to recognize some more trivial facts that I did happen to know. It’s pretty much a given that pirates are going to travel, and good pirates can blend into their surroundings, so it makes perfect sense that these ladies would have to know at least something about the lands they’re traveling to. I was so excited to see this, because I’ve been looking for books that can introduce kids to other cultures sneakily, by tricking them into having an adventure, and this really delivers on that.

- The magic in this is absolutely charming. As if being pirates isn’t enough of a draw, the ship itself is magical. How neat is that?! I think this was probably my favorite part of the book, and I can imagine kids would love it just as much. What’s better than being a pirate? Being a pirate on a magical ship, of course. The magic aboard the Ship of Shadows is born from legends about it, which means the rooms and things that appear are based on what yarns people are weaving about it, and I loved that. Exploring the ship with Aleja and Frances was one of my favorite parts of the story, because there was so much to love about the ship. I’m more than a little jealous that I can’t set sail in her myself.

- This book is just chock full of adventures and puzzles. I mean, it wouldn’t be much of a pirate book without swashbuckling, now would it? This book skirts the line between cozy piracy and the actual brutalities of piracy really nicely, sparing the reader the real nitty-gritty, but also reminding them that everything comes at a price. I liked that even while it was glamorizing piracy to an extent, there were some harsh realities about the dangers. There is a little bit of a quest going on here, though, which means there are sometimes puzzles or riddles to solve, and I think that’ll definitely appeal to young readers. I thought they were kind of easy/obvious, but I’m also old and jaded, and it feels like a good level for the target audience.

- I can’t end this review without mentioning the all-female crew, which drew me to this book in the first place. Not only were they diverse, but there was something different to love about all of them. I actually really liked that the book delved not only into their ethnic backgrounds (since they’re all from different places, with different cultures), but they all have very different life experiences. I absolutely adore stories with both found family and crews, so combining both into this one book seems pretty efficient to me. I really enjoyed reading the crews’ interactions, not to mention the difference in personalities.

Sticking Points:

- Aleja is too good at … well, basically everything. Magically. Because the plot requires her to be. This goes back to the wish fulfillment thing I mention. Of course kids are going to enjoy this part more than I did, and this book is really for them, but my old, lame adult brain kept shorting out at everything this kid could do. She's clearly "not like other girls," taught herself English just by reading English books (and somehow can pronounce it nearly perfectly when speaking aloud), finds a secret hidden book, and accidentally uncovers a counterfeiting ring in just the first 10% of the book. It was ... a lot. I know wish fulfillment books are huge in MG, and I’m not even against kids doing fantastical feats. I just want a reason in the story to believe that they’re capable of doing these things, which I didn’t feel from this story. Every time Aleja pulled off yet another thing, I kept thinking, but how?! I don’t have to think it has to be realistic or real. I just have to buy it in the context of the story. Again, this is very much a me thing, but it makes me twitchy.
Profile Image for Kerri.
420 reviews10 followers
July 18, 2020
“Sometimes friends became family too. The family you chose to have when your lives cosied up against each other’s as if you’d always been there.”

Thank you to Dave @ The Write Reads, Puffin Books, and the author for sending me a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!

We’re all readers here, I assume. You know that feeling when you become so engrossed in a book that everything else ceases to exist except the world of the book? That moment when you forsake basic needs like sleep and food because you don’t want to break your concentration? That’s one of my favorite feelings in the world. So, when I find a book that can make me feel that, I savor it.

The Ship of Shadows is a book to be savored.

We follow a young girl named Aleja, who is growing up in Seville, but dreams of exploring the world. She knows the world is more than just her family’s tavern, where she helps out during the day. She has no way to explore how she wishes to except through the tales she finds in books. And there are no few amount of people telling her that girls can’t be explorers, anyways. Then, one day, a mysterious ship sails into town with an even more mysterious crew. Aleja finds herself whisked away on an adventure she has always dreamed of by a gang of women pirates who need her help in a dangerous task.

Y’all. I’m finding it hard to form the words to tell you how much I loved this book. Because, my goodness, I LOVED THIS BOOK! There are pirates! Badass female pirates! And adventure! And cake! And… and… just… ARGH! *explodes in a cloud of happiness*

*deep breath*

Okay, now that I’ve got that out of my system, perhaps I can talk about The Ship of Shadows more coherently 😅 The thing that I loved first and foremost about this book was the characters. Aleja, fierce and wonderful Aleja, is a perfect protagonist. She’s quick-witted and brave, with a touch of the dreamer and a heart ready for exploration. She has doubts, she has flaws (she’s terrible at spying, for one 😉), and it’s wonderful to watch her grow in the short span of this book. And Aleja is just the icing on the beautifully-crafted character cake! The entire crew of the Ship of Shadows had such dimension and depth that I found myself caring for each and every one of them. I want to steal cake with Frances. I want to have weapons training with Malika. I want to hang out with Captain Quint and pet her owl! I became thoroughly invested in the characters and I was more than a little sad when I had to let them go at the end of the book.

But a book cannot thrive on excellent characters alone. I mean, it can try, but what is a story without a plot? And the plot of this book is as daring and exciting as one would expect from a story populated by pirates! This is a definite page-turner, especially once Aleja has found herself on the Ship of Shadows. There’s just so much happening and you are eager to devour every bit of it! You want to find out the ship’s many secrets as much as Aleja does and you can’t help but wrap yourself up in the central quest. I think the only thing I found lacking about the plot was how abrupt the ending felt. I wanted more, dangit! I was so wrapped up in the story!

Speaking of being wrapped up in the story, the author’s rich and evocative writing style certainly helps to ensnare you. The lush descriptions and the beautiful prose made me feel like I was riding the waves right alongside the crew. And the food descriptions! I have an insatiable sweet tooth (much like Frances) and some of the descriptions of the cakes had me drooling 😋 Maria Kuzniar has a way of crafting a story that makes me so excited to see what she comes out with next!

Final thoughts: This is what every daring tale of pirates and adventure strives to be. It’s fantastical! It’s fun! It’s thrilling! And, in the midst of all this daring-do and swashbuckling, there’s a warm heart to this story that made me fall in love. It’s a beautiful story of friendship and longing and finding where you fit. And there’s cake so… *thumbs up*!
Profile Image for Evelina | AvalinahsBooks.
855 reviews442 followers
July 26, 2020
How I read this: Free ebook copy received through NetGalley for a blog tour
3.5 stars

Okay, so what have we got here? Magic, pirate women, in fact – a pirate ship with an all-women crew (well, aside from a ghost and an owl), a brilliant library within said pirate ship, adventure and hidden mysterious treasures!! And a girl who gets told that “girls don’t go on adventures” and “girls can’t do anything”, when it’s painfully clear she will kick everyone’s butt by the end of this book. Okay, maybe by the middle of it even? So I’d say Ship of Shadows started off really well!!

The book is very colorful and empowering for girls. I can definitely recommend it, and here are some more of my thoughts if you want to read the full review:

I thank the author, publisher and The Write Reads tours for giving me a free copy in exchange to an honest review. This has not affected my opinion.

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Profile Image for (Ellie) ReadtoRamble.
389 reviews25 followers
July 13, 2020
I read this book for a blog tour, so thank you to the blog tour organiser, author and publisher for letting me take part in this tour, and thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

When I first saw this cover and read the blurb, I knew I needed to read this book. I've been reading a lot of middle grade books lately, and I adore books with pirates, adventures, hidden treasures, etc, so it was sure to be a great read.

This story starts in Sevilla in Spain, where Aleja lives in her family's Tavern, helps her grandmother, father and brothers by day, and dreams, climbs onto roofs and reads books about adventures at night. She has always dreamed of travelling the world and going on adventures, just like her favourite explorer Thomas James. She believes in magic and speaks English, French, Spanish and Arabic, but is lonely and pushed away by children her own age. That is, until he ship of shadows docks in the port of Sevilla and the adventure starts.

We then follow Aleja and the crew of the ship of shadows to various places, I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that the descriptions of the places, the food, the people, the customs, the colours and feelings are wonderful and they gave such a whimsical atmosphere to this book. The ship of shadows is a setting in itself, but also a character. It's such an amazing place, built with magic and hiding secret rooms that are unveiled every so often. This pirate ship is special because of the magic and shadows, but also because of the crew - they are all women. I absolutely adored this part of the book, I read so many fantasy books with strong female leads, but they are always next to the male leads, and I loved for once only have women. I think it made this story so much more special.

This book is really magical and whimsical. It's filled with great characters, I loved Frances, Aleja, Malika and Captain Quint, they are all so unique, but they come together as a family and man the ship of shadows as their home. Another favourite element in this book was the food. France always has some cake on her person, and whether it's a good day or bad, she always asks if anyone wants a slice of cake. There were also some really lovely descriptions of food that made me really hungry and I loved how vivid this book was. There is a quest in this story, and I love adventure, treasure missions, this was just this. There are so many things in this book, that I can't talk about everything, but I will say that there are pirates, ships, battles, jewels, maps, hidden cities, stealing, running, family, shadows, food and so much more.

I gave this book 5 stars, it was such a great experience, I loved it as soon as I started it and struggled to put it down. The images and chapter titles were also so lovely and really gave another special bit to this book. I would highly recommend this book and it is a book that anyone of any age can read. If you love an adventure, you will love this book and I cannot wait for book 2.
Profile Image for Sabrina.
1,248 reviews26 followers
July 17, 2020
Aleja has always found it impossible to make friends with the girls her age in their pretty dresses, particularly since everyone found out her secret dream to be an explorer. She's more comfortable climbing walls and running around on rooftops. Sneaking into the library at night when she should be sleeping and reading about all the places she dreams of going one day.

One night she discovers the fabled Ship of Shadows is not only real, but actually docked in her city. Aleja can't believe it when she's offered a place on the ship, but taking it means leaving behind her family and everything she knows. Can she really take that leap? The choice is taken out of her hands when she finds herself on the run from some very dangerous people.

I knew right away I was going to love Aleja! She's so brave, curious and clever. She teaches herself languages just through reading books and proves herself invaluable as she solves riddles and clues to help Captain Quint with her mysterious search. She's a wonderful character, trying to balance her dreams of exploring the world, with not wanting to disappoint her family. Her older brother Miguel is such a sweetheart. It's a shame we don't see more of him as he's so lovely and supportive of Aleja.

The story is exciting but almost takes a back seat to the amazing Ship of Shadows. Where do I even start, it's the coolest thing, practically a character itself and I could write pages about how much I love it! The ship is huge and full of so many mysteries. First and most important, it actually has it's own massive library, complete with sliding ladders. There's a resident ghost and lots of creepy shadows moving around everywhere. Though Aleja does seem to acquire a small friendly one like a pet. There are countless different rooms and hidden places, with secret passages and rooms where magic likes to hide, creating mystical waterfalls. I would love to visit the Navigator's cabin with it's telescope and glass roof. I want to live in Velka's cabin, with tropical trees, butterflies and what sounds like an amazing chemistry lab.

I enjoyed this book so much. The descriptions are so lush and evocative I could almost imagine I was experiencing all those places with Aleja. And there's so much cake! I found myself hungry all the way through!
Profile Image for WS_BOOKCLUB.
324 reviews18 followers
July 31, 2020
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

Well, buckle my swash! Wow, this book is fun! Adventure, piracy, and a fair bit of mystery made this an enjoyable romp full of nonstop excitement. I can tell you with absolute surety that all of the excitement surrounding The Ship of Shadows is well deserved.

Aleja is a wonderful main character. She loves books and adventure, and is incredibly smart. While she wishes she fit in more with the other children her age, she never pretends to be someone else. I loved that. When she finds a pirate crew of all females going on the sorts of adventures Aleja thought were reserved only for males, I felt like cheering.

The ship itself is full of mysteries to answer and wonders to discover. The pirates themselves are each a puzzle waiting to be solved. I especially liked Frances, an incorrigible partner-in-crime. Oh-and the ghost. Yes, there’s a resident ghost and it’s fantastic.

The book is full of small details that elevate it above “just” an adventure book (although there’s nothing wrong with that sort of book): there are bits of history thrown in, and travel to exciting (and real) places. Aleja learns from each crew member, as they all have their own individual strengths.

The main story-line itself is fantastic and there was never a dull moment. This is the sort of book that will capture the imagination of anyone who longs for adventure. While it is meant for the middle grade audience, this would make an excellent read-aloud for slightly younger kids, and it was a blast for me to read as well. I highly suggest picking this one up!
Profile Image for Livy.
253 reviews12 followers
July 17, 2020
This book is stunning. I absolutely loved it and dived headfirst into the magical world of Aleja and the crew of the Ship of Shadows.

The characters are so well written and I love that they are all badass women,especially because they are so well rounded. I particularly relate to Aleja because I too love reading all about adventures and listing after one of my own.

The plot too is well paced and it never felt like it was lagging or moving too quickly. It was just right, like the lore for the magic used which can be quite difficult to perfect but this book manages it perfectly.

I found it hard to put down and I look forward to seeing what is in store for the crew of the Ship of Shadows.
Profile Image for Marthabethan.
484 reviews19 followers
August 20, 2020
This book was so great! Such a breath of fresh air!

A pirate filled adventure story that spreads across Spain, the ocean, and Morocco. I was invested straight away and loved Aleja as a character. She was so amazing! The ship of shadows was so fascinating and full of magic and wonders. Also, a pirate ship with a library - what could be better?

This was full of great female characters who were so strong and I loved the bonds of friendship between them! So much happened and I really hope there is a sequel on the way sometime soon as I need more of this world.

It’s out on the 16th of July! So get on and preorder it, and find the lovely author on bookstagram - @cosyreads !!
Profile Image for Christine Spoors.
Author 1 book446 followers
April 27, 2020
I had the best time following Aleja to distant lands with the wonderful all female crew of The Ship of Shadows. I flew through the book and couldn’t put it down, I loved the different settings from Sevilla to Marrakesh. I couldn’t never guess what was going to happen next, the plot was filled with puzzles and unexpected events which kept me hooked. I can’t wait to see where we go adventuring next!

Thank you to Puffin for the early copy and I AM SO PROUD OF MY BEST FRIEND FOR WRITING THIS MAGICAL STORY!
Profile Image for Sana.
1,076 reviews956 followers
Shelved as 'to-read-so-bad-it-hurts'
March 4, 2020
'Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend.'

Profile Image for Natalya.
606 reviews11 followers
June 30, 2022
A fun and fast paced pirate adventure that I needed. I want to crew the Ship of Shadows. ^_^
Profile Image for ทixi৳ท.
162 reviews13 followers
July 27, 2021
“It was only natural that the Ship of Shadows had enemies; they were pirates after all, and pirates tended to make enemies.”

This is a good little adventurous and mysterious story. With kick-ass pirate girls/women who show that they are just as cunning and strong as boys/men. Aleja is a very smart girl whose every desire is to explore the world. I liked her from the beginning because it was very interesting to see into her mind. I especially liked this mix of many mythologies and friendship.

“Well, one day, I’m going to go everywhere. See everything in the world.”

I’m just sorry I didn’t read this in my best mood. Because I think this book would have been my favorite. So I'll want to re-read this.

“Real exploring isn’t something to be taken lightly. It’s hard work.”

Profile Image for Danni (_forbookssake).
166 reviews19 followers
July 31, 2020
I don’t usually read a lot of middle grade, but when I heard about The Ship of Shadows, there was no way I was turning down that opportunity! I’m a sucker for a good pirate story, and this one sounded too good to miss.

Aleja is an excellent main character, who you really grow to love throughout the book. She is strong, adventurous, and truly a great friend. She isn’t afraid of a little danger, and will put herself in harms way to help those that she cares about. I certainly think we can all relate to Aleja’s love of books, and I really loved how she would sneak in to the library to read!

The Ship of Shadows crew is an interesting mix of people, and each member had their own exciting qualities and strengths. I definitely enjoyed learning about each character, and their backgrounds. The shadows themselves were also extremely interesting, and a joy to have around.

The legend of The Ship of Shadows is so exciting, and after hearing the rumours of it towards the beginning of the story, I couldn’t wait to find out more about the ship, to discover if the rumours were true, and for the secrets to unfold.

The description of the ship is so well written, I could actually visualise it in my head, especially the library, which sounds like HEAVEN! Life on board the ship sounds so amazing, despite it being a little strenuous at times, and all of the different activities sound like they would be so much fun! I would actually love to give weapons training a go myself, and I personally think I would be quite good at it. I would love to live on board The Ship of Shadows, and I actually think I would make quite a good pirate given the chance!

The world building is done to perfection, and you can completely immerse yourself in it, not only the ship itself, but also the many places that the crew visit along their journey. It really gives you that travelling bug, and has made me want to travel the world and see as much as possible (more than I already did).

There is also a very good lesson within this story too. Aleja’s family tell her that she can’t do the things that she dreams of (mainly because she is female), but she goes out and she proves all of them wrong. You can do anything you put your mind to, and you shouldn’t let anyone or anything stand between you and your dreams, or tell you that you can’t reach them.

This book is full of magic, adventure, and is lots of fun to read. Pirate stories have always been a favourite of mine, even as a child, and the fact that The Ship of Shadows is an all female crew makes this one even better! It certainly surpassed all of my expectations. I hope that this becomes a series, because I would love to see how Aleja, and The Ship of Shadows‘ story continues. There aren’t many books that I could read over and over again, but this is one of them, and has definitely become a favourite of mine.

I give The Ship of Shadows a 5 star rating!
Profile Image for Candyce Kirk.
1,160 reviews34 followers
July 28, 2020
The Ship of Shadows was everything I was expecting and more! I really think this is such a special story. Everything from the writing to the illustrations at the beginning of each chapters fit together so perfectly. I'm really sad that I'm all done with this story and I would love more in this world.

Aleja loves everything books and has been reading about adventures since she was young. Who would've thought she'd end up being on a magical pirate ship with an all-female crew. I loved seeing this happen, because Aleja is told in the beginning that this is something girls can't do. I really think this character is special. She loves having her nose in a book, but loves going on adventures just as much. It's amazing to see Aleja get strong and become brave during the journey she goes on.

On top of an amazing main character, I loved our crew on the ship. They're all unique, but fit together so well. They've all found their place on the ship and the captain keeps them together. It was interesting to see how they all had their own role and contributed in different ways. I would definitely would've loved to have been a crew member when I was younger (I wouldn't say no to this adventure now either, haha).

The setting was also amazing. I loved that the setting wasn't typical. I haven't read many middle grade books with settings such as Spain and Morocco. It was so much fun to have these places in this adventure. And I can't forget the ship of shadows itself. I mean, a library on board of a ship?!? The way it was described is amazing and I would live there if I could. Also, a ship that has magical rooms that tend to appear every once in awhile? I could live with that. It's like a surprise each and every time.

Last, but not least, the story! It was really interesting that magic, history and even facts about the places they were got to be mixed together so well. It flowed really well. I loved that magic was attached to certain aspects of history and that our main character learned a lot along the way. Also, the legends and how magic works really had me interesting during the whole story. Add some puzzles and mysteries and this adventure was complete.

I really think The Ship of Shadows has made it to the list of one of my favorites of 2020 so far! I'll definitely be rereading this one in the future. And talking about this book makes me want cake again (our characters always seem to be eating cake that sounds delicious), so I may just need to go bake now! If you love adventure, magic, history and lots of fun, I really recommend The Ship of Shadows!
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