As Cinebook’s other, and rather excellent, pirate offering Long John Silver appears draws to a close with its fourth book, the publisher begins another pirate series this time set amongst the islands of the Caribbean rather than South America. Barracuda – Slaves is written by Jean Dufaux and illustrated by Jérémy Petiqueux.
The pirate ship Barracuda captures a Spanish ship killing the male crew and taking the women to the pirate town of Puerto Blanco to be sold as slaves. There the book follows the stories of three teenagers, the noble born Maria who is bought by the slave master himself, the servant boy Emilio who only survived the pirates because he passed himself off as servant girl Emilia who was bought from the slave market by a mysterious ‘knight’, and Raffy, the injured son of the Barracuda’s captain who remains on the island to recuperate when the pirate ship sails away.
Jean Dufaux, writer of the enjoyable if long winded Crusade, begins the set-up for another somewhat brutal tale of death and intrigue – and yet by the end of this first part of the story of these three teens it is still only the set-up. In Crusade the main characters all went their own ways through the plot in different locales and rarely meeting, a bit like Game of Thrones, and to an extent the same happens here despite them all being in the same town. Maria succumbs to the cruelty of the slave master and in attempting to escape makes an enemy of Raffy, while Emilio/Emilia has an altogether kinder time of it with the knight who is well aware that the girl he bought is actually a boy. Where the story will lead to I’m not sure, or for that matter how much the pirate ship of the title will actually feature given that so little of this first book is set on it.
Barracuda appears to be Jérémy Petiqueux’s first bandes dessinees series as an artist although he has worked on a number as a colourist including Lament Of The Lost Moors that Cinebook are just starting to publish. It has to be said that his colours are lovely, reminiscent of the colouring in The Scorpion, while his artwork is confident and dynamic when it needs to be.
Barracuda – Slaves sets the scene for this new series but it is only scene-setting. The whole thing is a bit of a sprawl as multiple characters appear and then disappear and what readers are left with are three young teenage children abandoned to their presumably interlinked fates on the pirate island. Now that we know these characters, their situations and motives so in-depth hopefully the plot will get moving in the next book in the series.
• There are more details of Barracuda – Slaves at the Cinebook website
• The second book in the Barracuda series, Scars, is scheduled to be published by Cinebook in March 2014
• There are more details of Barracuda on the series’ Facebook page (in French)
• There are more details of Jérémy Petiqueux’s art on his blog
• Cinebook will be appearing at Thought Bubble in Leeds over the weekend of 23/24 November 2014. Their sales table will be in the Royal Armouries Hall