14 September, 2015

The pirates and the nightmaker by James Norcliffe

James Norcliffe is a Christchurch-based poet and children’s fiction writer, author of The loblolly boy (2009) and The loblolly boy and the sorcerer (2011). The loblolly boy is a magical, Peter-Pan type creature who has the gift of flight, is invisible to almost everyone and can swap identities with people.

In The pirates and the nightmaker Norcliffe goes back to tell the origins of the loblolly boy, and reintroduces characters that lit up the earlier books including the dark and mysterious sorcerer, Nicholas Wicker, the enigmatic Captain Bass and the ingenious but sometimes foolish gadget-maker Daniel Flynn.

The year is 1740 and the ship Firefly is captured by pirates in the Caribbean. The ship’s boy is set adrift with the captain, a passenger called Mr Wicker, and some of the crew. When the starving crew eye up the boy for dinner, Mr Wicker transforms him into an unearthly flying creature with emerald-green wings. The boy learns of the sorcerer’s plans to find a magical astrolabe that can plunge the world into darkness and allies with the captain of a ghost ship and the pirate captain’s daughter to stop him.

Norcliffe is a wordsmith whose fiction writing is infused with his poetic talents. He weaves beautiful and intelligent stories that twist and turn effortlessly until you are surprised to reach the end of the book and realise how many hours have passed. Written for the 10-14 age-bracket, this is sophisticated children’s literature that will delight many adults. If you wish to hide this guilty pleasure, I suggest reading the book to your children.


Title: The pirates and the nightmaker
Author: James Norcliffe

Reviewed by Nick K, Ranui Library

Nick K enjoys reading crime fiction, demonological adult and young adult fiction, classic children’s fiction like Arthur Ransome and picture books, especially those illustrated by Quentin Blake. He hates reality TV.

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