Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review: Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

Cinnamon and Gunpowder

Review by Shellie for Cinnamon and Gunpowder (audio version) by Eli Brown

Shellie’s quick take:   A fun and fantastical historical novel about a female pirate captain and a kidnapped chef. Combining swashbuckling action and the creation of delicious meals, this one was hard to stop listening to in its audio format.

Shellie’s description:   Set in and around the early 1800’s, Owen Wedgewood is a chef for the household of a powerful tradesman. He’s content with his lot in life until he’s kidnapped by Mad Hannah Mabbot and her men. She is a female pirate to be reckoned with, and she makes a deal with Wedgewood that if he can create a gourmet meal for her every Sunday (with the meager means within the pirate ship), she will spare his life.

So Owen goes about unhappily trying to keep himself alive by creating delicious meals for the captain. As he does so he comes to realize that Mad Hannah’s motives for piracy may not be as selfish and mean spirited as he once believed. Drama, action, and romance ensues as this story comes to it’s terrific climax.

Shellie’s thoughts:   I listened to this book in its audio a version and have to say that it is well articulated by its English-accented reader (James Langton), giving the book an authentic feel. The book is generally fast paced - and what a clever and creative premise for a book! It definitely has the feel of a make-believe story, since it’s unreasonable to believe that there where beautiful female pirates in the early 1800’s; or ever for that matter. This un-believability makes the book an excellent choice for fantasy readers.

With historical themes, exotic locations, colorful characters, and the creation of fantastic meals, this is a fun tale that I really enjoyed. And, the best part of the book is that it has a terrific ending which is not “happily-ever-after”. Highly recommended for historical fantasy lovers, foodies and cooks, and anyone who likes pirates. I will be looking for more by this author and give this entertaining book a 4 star rating.

Macmillan Audio | June 2013 | Unabridged Digital Audio | Audio Run Time: 11:50

This audio book was borrowed from our local library.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

A gripping adventure, a seaborne romance, and a twist on the tale of Scheherazade—with the best food ever served aboard a pirate’s ship

The year is 1819, and the renowned chef Owen Wedgwood has been kidnapped by the ruthless pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. He will be spared, she tells him, as long as he puts exquisite food in front of her every Sunday without fail.

To appease the red-haired captain, Wedgwood gets cracking with the meager supplies on board. His first triumph at sea is actual bread, made from a sourdough starter that he leavens in a tin under his shirt throughout a roaring battle, as men are cutlassed all around him. Soon he’s making tea-smoked eel and brewing pineapple-banana cider.

But Mabbot—who exerts a curious draw on the chef—is under siege. Hunted by a deadly privateer and plagued by a saboteur hidden on her ship, she pushes her crew past exhaustion in her search for the notorious Brass Fox. As Wedgwood begins to sense a method to Mabbot’s madness, he must rely on the bizarre crewmembers he once feared: Mr. Apples, the fearsome giant who loves to knit; Feng and Bai, martial arts masters sworn to defend their captain; and Joshua, the deaf cabin boy who becomes the son Wedgwood never had.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a swashbuckling epicure’s adventure simmered over a surprisingly touching love story—with a dash of the strangest, most delightful cookbook never written. Eli Brown has crafted a uniquely entertaining novel full of adventure: the Scheherazade story turned on its head, at sea, with food. 

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