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

Source: Library

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.

6 thoughts on “Review: Hurricane Dancers by Margarita Engle

  1. 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! ❤

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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