When The Mermaid Sings by Helen Hollick

Today I’m delighted to be sharing an excerpt from Helen Hollick’s prequel to The Sea Witch Voyages, When the Mermaid Sings as part of a blog tour hosted by The Coffee Pot Book Club.


A brief bit about the Sea Witch Voyages:

I wrote the first Voyage (Sea Witch) back in 2005 after thoroughly enjoying the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Like most avid readers, however, I wanted more than just the movie, I wanted to read something that was as entertaining and as exciting. A nautical adventure with a charming rogue of a pirate captain, written for adults (with adult content) but with a dash of supernatural fantasy as well – elements of which had made that first movie such fun to watch. I found many nautical-based novels, but they were all ‘serious stuff’ – Patrick O’Brian, Alexander Kent, C. S. Forrester … all good reads but without the fantasy fun, and barely a female character in sight. I simply could not find the book I wanted to read. So, I wrote my own.

The first Voyage led to more books in the series, and also generated several emails from fans who wanted to know how Jesamiah had become a pirate in the first place.

When the Mermaid Sings answers that question.

Virginia Summer 1708

Dressed in a warm, broadcloth boat coat, calico shirt, moleskin breeches and a pair of leather boots that fitted well enough with two pairs of woollen stockings and his belly full of mutton stew, Jesamiah was feeling more optimistic as he walked with the plantation supervisor, Halyard Calpin through the dew-laden damp of the pre-dawn darkness towards the main gates. He was leading Calpin’s sturdy old cob mare and was to leave her at the livery yard in Urbanna. From there, find a ship to take him to Port Royal, Jamaica.

“There will be men there who knew your father and who will be saddened to learn of his death,” Calpin explained, trying to think what else of use he could tell the lad. “Get yourself work, steer a course for Port Royal and ask for Malachias Taylor – he will turn up there eventually. He is the one you want. He sails Mermaid. He and your father sailed many a nautical mile together.”

The crickets were loud, and somewhere nearby, a frog croaked. All else was quiet. A shooting star trailed bright against the dark-blue sky. Jesamiah watched it fall. A soul crossing to Heaven? His mother or his father?

“Before everyone came, I thought I’d killed Phillipe,” Jesamiah admitted in almost a whisper. “I don’t know if I’m relieved that I didn’t, or not.”

“For the enemy you’ve now made, you might wish you had, lad, but put it behind you. Look forward to your bowsprit, not back to your wake.”

Not reassured, Jesamiah asked, “What if I make a mess of things? What if I fail?”

Calpin pursed his lips and shook his head. “Your father failed at a few things, so did I, so does everyone. He was a good Captain, knew his ship, his crew. Knew the sea.” Calpin laid a hand on the lad’s shoulder, squeezed, affectionate and reassuring. “Go out into the world, value your honour, loyalty, integrity, and do your best. Just do your best.”

They stopped beyond the gates and Calpin boosted Jesamiah into the saddle. It took him a moment to set the unfamiliar weight and feel of the sword at his hip comfortably, while Calpin checked that the straps of the knapsack were secured tight onto the saddle rings.

“Well, Jes, God be with you, son,” he said, his hand on Jesamiah’s knee, nodded towards the river and the pale wraiths of mist that were rising and swirling with the faint light of the dawn. “If you find Malachias, get word to me so I know you are safe; he will know how. Now, be off with you!” He cracked his palm hard, on the mare’s rump and she lurched forward into a lumbering canter, Jesamiah having to cling to her mane to keep in the saddle. When he righted himself and looked back, the ornate wrought iron gates were closed and Calpin was gone.

Read the (true) story of how the Sea Witch set sail (contains spoilers)
How I met Jesamiah Acorne (the tru-ish) story

A prequel short read story to the Sea Witch Voyages of Captain Jesamiah Acorne

When the only choice is to run, where do you run to?
When the only sound is the song of the sea, do you listen?
Or do you drown in the embrace of a mermaid?

Throughout childhood, Jesamiah Mereno has suffered the bullying of his elder half-brother. Then, not quite fifteen years old, and on the day they bury their father, Jesamiah hits back. In consequence, he flees his Virginia home, changes his name to Jesamiah Acorne, and joins the crew of his father’s seafaring friend, Captain Malachias Taylor, aboard the privateer, Mermaid.
He makes enemies, sees the ghost of his father, wonders who is the Cornish girl he hears in his mind – and tries to avoid the beguiling lure of a sensuous mermaid…
An early coming-of-age tale of the young Jesamiah Acorne, set in the years before he becomes a pirate and Captain of the Sea Witch.

Praise for When The Mermaid Sings

Ms Hollick has skillfully picked up the threads that she alludes to in the main books and knitted them together to create a Jesamiah that we really didn’t know.” Richard Tearle senior reviewer, Discovering Diamonds

Captain Jesamiah Acorne is as charming a scoundrel as a fictional pirate should be. A resourceful competitor to Captain Jack Sparrow!” Antoine Vanner author

Helen Hollick has given us the answer to that intriguing question that Jesamiah fans have been aching for – how did he start his sea-going career as a pirate?” Alison Morton, author

I really enjoyed the insight offered into Jesamiah’s backstory, and found the depiction of our teenage hero very moving.” Anna Belfrage, author

I loved this little addendum to the Jesamiah series. I always had a soft spot for the Lorelei stories and enjoyed that the author cleverly brought her over from the Rhine valley to fit into the story.” Amazon Reviewer

When the Mermaid Sings is available on Kindle Unlimited and at
Amazon UKAmazon US Amazon CA Amazon AU

Helen Hollick

First published in 1994, Helen became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she writes a nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages. She is now branching out into the quick read novella, ‘Cosy Mystery’ genre with her new venture, the Jan Christopher Murder Mysteries, set in the 1970s, with the first in the series, A Mirror Murder incorporating her, often hilarious, memories of working as a library assistant.

Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales and Life of A Smuggler. She lives in an eighteenth-century farmhouse in North Devon, runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction, and occasionally gets time to write…

For more information about Helen and her books click on the links below
WebsiteTwitterFacebookAmazon Author Page

More information on the Coffee Pot Book Club and other works of quality historical fiction can be found on Twitter and Instagram.

Book Title: When the Mermaid Sings
Series: The Sea Witch Voyages
Author: Helen Hollick
Publication Date: 21st June 2021
Publisher: Taw River Press
Page Length: 190 Pages
Genre: Historical/Nautical Fantasy

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