The Mark of the Golden Dragon, by L.A. Meyer, takes readers – and protagonist Jacky Faber – back to the sea. Jacky has come a long way since the London street urchin disguised herself as a cabin boy aboard the Dolphin. She’s spied for England, dived for sunken treasure, been tried as a traitor, kidnapped by pirates, and, most shockingly of all, attended boarding school in Boston.
In this, her ninth adventure in the “Bloody Jack” series, Jacky – shaved head, tattoos and all – is back in the captain’s cabin of her ship, the Lorelei Lee, after neatly obtaining pardons for herself and her crew by forging the signature of Captain Bligh (yes, that Captain Bligh). Best of all, she’s been reunited with her beloved Jaimy.
But as Meyer’s fans know, a peaceful state of affairs never lasts long, and a sudden typhoon soon sends Jacky and young friend Ravi plunging into the deep. Meyer takes delight in having Jacky rub up against famous figures (Dolley Madison was a classmate, no less), and Jacky finds herself curtseying to King George and dining with Lord Byron. The poem that drives the second half of the plot, though, is Alfred Noyes’s “The Highwayman.” “Golden Dragon” ends on a dark note that will test even its heroine’s “habit of bobbing back up from various troubles” – but Meyer will have a mutiny on his hands if it marks the end of the “Bloody Jack” adventures.