Stolen begins dramatically in Teignmouth, England 1633 when young nineteen-year-old Lizbet Warren returns from purchasing a new pair of shoes to discover that her parents, and most of the villagers, have either been slaughtered or taken captive by Barbary Corsairs to be sold in the slave markets of Morocco. The red-haired fury from the Workhouse of Abandoned and Unwanted Children, Elinor, is the sole survivor and only companion for Lizbet as she sets off for London to find away to free to her parents.
Seventeenth century London is a bustling, dirty and dangerous city crammed with the poor, the wealthy, the upright and the scoundrels. In the chaos on the streets of London, Elinor and Lizbeth are separated when Lizbet is mistakenly arrested for vagrancy. In the New Prison yard, under a cold rain where the “streets boiled up with evil-smelling mud” (ch.6) Lizbet is tied to a post, the constable has the whip raised to slash across her bare back when a mysterious French privateer, Jean Vallée, rescues her only to imprison her in his Dorchester manor house.
Later, while accompanying Jean Vallée’s on his ship, the vessel is attacked by pirates and taken captive; the crew is forced, along with Lizbeth, to join the pirates or die. Here the story really picks up speed with a complex bond developing with her captors, daring raids and near death experiences. On board, Lizbet must understand that “cruelty is a weapon, and compassion is death” (ch.20) as she struggles between who she once was as a farm girl living in a sea-side village and who she must become among her captors. Finally, her quest for her parents leads her to the Morocco courts and harems in the lush and excotic land of Barbados.
There are a few minor typos in the ebook version, but this does not detract from the story. In fact, I found myself wanting Ms. Dalton to delve more deeply into the setting and the relationships – my appetite for this historical land was not yet satiated. And what writer doesn’t want to know their readers want more? Stolen is an interesting and satisfying read that, at its close, may have left the door open for a sequel of another woman pirate, perhaps?
Stolen is the story of a young woman whose village home and innocence is stolen. It is the search for not only family, but of a new identity, value and of personal strength.
Watch for my Interview of Sheila Dalton and her forth-coming Guest Post!
If you have read Stolen (or any of Sheila Dalton’s other novels) please drop me a line and share your thoughts. HFA would all love to hear from you (as would Sheila!)