Jacky Faber's successful season as a privateer was brought to an end after the British government advertised a hefty award for her capture. Fearing for her life, Jacky flees back to her school in Boston where she mends bridges with old friends, and is surprised to be accepted back into her old school. But even when Jacky's not looking for trouble, it has a knack for finding her. When her class takes a trip out to an island in Boston harbor, they are kidnapped by wicked men with intention of selling them as rich man's wives on Barbary Coast. Jacky knows that they need to escape, but can she convince a class filled with rich society girls to save themselves?
In the Belly of the Bloodhound is the fourth book in L.A. Meyer's fantastic Bloody Jack Series. Those looking for another rip-roaring nautical adventure on the high seas may find themselves disappointed, as most of the book features Jacky and her friend being held captive in the cargo hold of The Bloodhound, waiting to be sold as slaves. I still found myself really enjoying the story as it featured plenty of psychological suspense and exciting moments. One thing I think Meyer did very well here is in the characterization of the kidnapped girls. It would have been so easy to cast them all as spoiled frightened weaklings that can't think for themselves, but Meyer creates a variety of complex personalities. Even Clarissa Worthington (Jacky's old rival from The Curse of the Blue Tattoo) is given more layers than you'd first suspect.
In the Belly of the Bloodhound is a very character focused book, but as a historical fiction novel, Meyer still succeeds in transporting us back to the past. One of the issues that is important this time around is that of slavery. We're given a glimpse into the life of a slave girl, as well as the abolitionist movement in Boston. This is particularly apt, as the girls do end up spending most of their time on a slave ship. As far as romance goes, In the Belly of the Bloodhound does not feature Jacky picking up interested men left and right (for which I am somewhat thankful for) as we saw in Under the Jolly Roger. As Jacky and Jaimy are now considered an item again, we see their efforts to keep and touch and reunite.
Although the book can drag a little bit (they do spend a lot of time in that cargo hold), for the most part, it's a highly enjoyable historical fiction tale, with some really gripping, and even horrifying moments. As with Under the Jolly Roger, I listened to In the Belly of the Bloodhound as an audiobook and I am very happy I did, as the narrator is incredibly skilled. I do plan on continuing this series the next time I have the urge to read some historical fiction.
Rating: four and a half stars
Length: the print version if 528 pages
Source: Lewiston Publc Library
Other books I've read by this author: Bloody Jack, The Curse of the Blue Tattoo, Under the Jolly Roger