Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Or Else My Lady Keeps the Key, by Kage Baker

Or Else My Lady Keeps the Key
Kage Baker
Subterranean Press: 2008

Taking a step away from the Company, Kage Baker takes a crack at a pirate novel and gives us her spin on piracy and a quest for buried treasure. Or Else My Lady Keeps the Key is a short novel rife with adventure, mystery, the supernatural, piracy, a damsel who may or may not be in distress, and the search for hidden treasure. The only thing missing is a treasure map with a big X on it.

John James is ready to leave a life of piracy behind. After risking his life and seeing friends killed he returns home with only 50 pounds. He wants to set up a blacksmith’s shop and the 50 pounds will be just enough, but he first must give a lady a letter from her now dead beau, his now dead friend. Rather than being the end of John’s adventures, this is the beginning to the next for the letter contains instructions on how to find a great deal of money he had buried. Mrs. Waverly offers to split the money with John if he will only help her.

What follows is a lean, fast paced story where each chapter brings the reader something new. Baker deftly advances the story while giving us greater details about the characters, a bit of romance and mystery, a bit of the supernatural, a bit of piracy and high adventure on the seas, and a bit of everything I might wish from a slim pirate novel.

Or Else My Lady Keeps the Key shows off Kage Baker’s range. She isn’t all about The Company (as great as that series is), and that while this novel is a bit of a period piece (set pre-Civil War), it moves as deftly as any modern tale of adventure. The simple path from A to B is not taken and Baker throws new perils and detours into the path of John James and the lady. I hesitate to use the word “rollicking”, but at times Or Else My Lady Keeps the Key does, indeed, rollick.

Or Else My Lady Keeps the Key will be published in April 2008

Reading Copy provided courtesy of Subterranean Press

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