Thursday, July 19, 2012

Book Review: Hurricane Dancers by Margarita Engle

Title: Hurricane Dancers: The First     
      Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck
Author: Margarita Engle
# Of Pages: 160
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Publication Date: March 15, 2011
Level: Middle Grade
Rating: 2 Hearts



Quebrado has been traded from pirate ship to ship in the Caribbean Sea for as long as he can remember. The sailors he toils under call him el quebrado—half islander, half outsider, a broken one. Now the pirate captain Bernardino de Talavera uses Quebrado as a translator to help navigate the worlds and words between his mother’s Taíno Indian language and his father’s Spanish.

But when a hurricane sinks the ship and most of its crew, it is Quebrado who escapes to safety. He learns how to live on land again, among people who treat him well. And it is he who must decide the fate of his former captors.

My Verdict

The book starts out with a brief historical setting and list of main characters. With a historical fiction book I like when the author includes some sort of background on which they drew their ideas from. I also found the cast list to be very helpful since there were five main characters, all with complicated names.

The book was divided into six main sections: Wild Sea, Brave Earth, Hidden, The Sphere Court, The Sky Horse, Far Light, and told from five different perspectives.

  • Quebrado, a young boy who was captured from home to become a slave on the seas.
“Sailors call me a boy
of broken dreams,
but I think of myself
as a place—a strange place
dreamed by the sea,
belonging nowhere,
half floating island
and half
wandering wind.”

  • Bernardino, a ruthless pirate who wants nothing but riches.
“I once owned a vast land grant
with hundreds of naturals,
Indian slaves who perished
From toil, hunger and plagues.
Crops withered, mines failed.
All my dreams of wealth vanished.”

  • Alonso, is the governor of Venezuela, conqueror of the tribes, and now he’s Bernardino’s hostage.
“There were days when my sword
killed ten thousand.

Now, all those dead spirits haunt me,
and I am the one on a ship
in chains.”

  • Narido, a young fisherman who helps Quebrado after he washed ashore from the shipwreck.
Everyone calls me River Being
because I catch so many fish
with my feathered arrows
and winged spears.

  • Caucuba, a young girl who has stolen Narido’s heart. 
“When Narido is close,
my mind swoops
and tumbles
like the wind
in a stormy sky.”

I was quite disappointed in this book having read it right after Engle’s other MG book, The Firefly Letters, which really captured my heart. This time around I found the story lacking any emotional depth, I just didn’t connect with the story or any of the five main characters.


  1. I agree with you. There were too many main characters and I just wanted to read about Narido and Caucuba.

  2. Wow, I agree with you, Amanda! The casts do have complicated names! I think I would struggle to remember the name if I read this book! It's too bad that you didn't enjoy this book, especially if the last book you read by the same author is amazing. Fabulous review nonetheless! <3

    1. You know when you just kind of skim over a name when you don't know how to pronounce it. I pretty much did that the whole time, haha. The list at the beginning really helped though! The problem is once I read something I love I expect to love everything else that author has written, which isn't always the case.

  3. The title is captivating and it sounds interesting. But, that is a lot of characters to remember. You do such a good job of reviewing. I like your honesty and you always pinpoint what you feel is missing.

    Sorry I haven't been around, but have been gone and haven't been blogging as much. Trying to catch up with some of my favorite blogs.

    1. What a great complement Pat, thank you so much!! You just made my day =D


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