I loved this book because it was SO MUCH FUN.
Crazy pirate Mad Hannah Mabbott captures and kidnaps chef Owen Wedgwood. “Wedge” is now a prisoner aboard The Flying Rose, and if he wants to remain aboard and not become fish food, he must prepare an exquisite meal for the red-haired pirate captain every Sunday.
The conflicts abound: Captain Mabbott’s quixotic hunt for her nemesis, The Brass Fox; Wedge’s panicked scrounging for decent provisions, which imagination leads him to use scraped barnacles, stolen pineapples, and a sourdough starter made from feeble yeast and coconut water; and countless encounters with other pirates where Wedge must dodge cutlasses while trying to keep his pans on the stove. There are escape attempts, underwater excursions, pirate raids, and haute cuisine.
Other swashbucklers aboard include: Mr. Apples, Mabbott’s first mate, a swarthy pirate with a predilection for knitting; twin Chinese bodyguards; and Joshua, a deaf cabin boy who proves to be a competent sous-chef.
What I loved about this book is not only is it adventurous fun, but it has an underlying current of heartbreak: the mother’s loss of her child, a man overcoming the death of his wife, a boy intent to return home, and the fight for triumph of good over evil. Above all, love trumps greed, and loyalty is more precious than gold.
Cinnamon and Gunpowder appeals to all five senses. Wedge’s cuisine patched together from rancid ingredients and seasoned with spices purloined from bowls of potpourri crushed with a cannon ball are nothing short of genius. The characters are multi-faceted, and no one can be taken at face value. Adventure on the high seas, indeed, replete with danger and a tender love story. What more could a reader ask for?