THE BONE SHIP’S WAKE by RJ Barker.
Orbit Books. p/back. £9.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
The situation aboard the Tide Child is more critical than ever before in the absence of Lucky Meas. The burdens of rule and her loss weigh heavy on Joron Twiner, shipwife in all but name, for he refuses to wear the two-tailed hat. It is Meas’ ship, and he is determined to get her back, no matter the cost. The Guillaume, too, suffers, though she refuses to share the extent of her predicament with Joron.
Meas Gilbryn has long endured the torment, captive and tortured at the hands of her mother’s hagpriest. They want desperately to know how she raised a sea dragon. They will take that knowledge from her piece by piece. Over and again, she tells them she raised no dragon, but they do not believe her… and the pain goes on.
The sea holds more danger than ever before. Aboard the Maiden’s Loss, it is felt. A wind blows, from sea, not land. An ill sign. A black ship comes. The black pirate. One ship of the dead, leading more. Join him, or die. That is the choice they are all given. The black pirate will do whatever is necessary to recover his shipwife.
The Bone Ship’s Wake is the final book of the trilogy, and what an ending it offers to Joron Twiner’s journey and the story of the Tide Child. Betrayal lurks around every corner, the rot has its claws deep into Joron, and something else has its claws into the Guillaume. Add in Meas’ somewhat diminished state and the rising of sea dragons, and you have a page-turner worth prioritising.
The seemingly hopeless situation our heroes find themselves in adds levels of tension and dread throughout this final instalment which is enriched throughout by the relationships between the various characters and crew members and the well-established, well-drawn world they populate. This is one of those books that when you approach the end, you relish every sentence, knowing it has to end but wishing it didn’t.