But no ending. Debut novelist Eames commits a cardinal sin by ending his story without a resolution. It opens well, however, with our hero and a bully and a fistful of horse manure. Said hero is Kitto, 12 years old, clubfooted, about to discover that his last name is different from what he thought, that his deceased mother had a dark and complicated past and that his uncle is a pirate. The characters are not so much developed as moved like chess pieces: hidden treasure, scary tattoos, a treacherous friend with a pet monkey, a rescued slave, a climactic ship-to-ship battle with circling sharks.
Sometimes the language is clunky or awkward. It does, however, draw readers in, at least until the last pages, where Kitto lands after his clubfoot is bitten off by one of those sharks, and his companions are about to cauterize it. Then what? Readers who plummet off this cliff will hope there are no sharks circling below.
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Table of Contents Excerpt Rave and Reviews. About The Book. The Dagger Quick S imon Sneed flared thin lips, revealing a disgraceful mishmash of teeth. His name was Kitto Wheale—or so he thought—and unlike Simon, Kitto did not attract a circle of admirers. There were six boys in all arrayed against Kitto. Simon and three others stood in front and blocked one end of the deserted alley; two boys behind Kitto blocked the other.
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Six to one—poor odds. Next to Kitto stood his little brother, Elias, known to all as Duck. Duck glared the most menacing look a six-year-old could muster.
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From all parts. He and his mate hurled Duck to the ground, and the wounded one pinned him to the cobblestones with a knee to the back. Kitto knew just then he would not try to run. There were some insults that should not be borne. Do that, and we let you go. Holding that makes you look less ugly. Both of us? And no beating? He struck himself in the face, mashing manure across his nose and cheek. There was an instant of shocked delay, and then mayhem erupted. Simon shrieked.
The boy kneeling atop Duck stood, and in a trice the six boys threw Kitto to the cobblestones. They beat him and kicked him and stomped him. You crazy cripple! Get up, Kitto! He squeezed his eyes shut. A huge man stepped through it. His name was Pickett, and he was a blacksmith. He held a long bar of iron that glowed red at one end. Pickett took a few steps forward.
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The boys scattered like cockroaches before a lantern, Simon at their lead. Halfway down the alley, he turned. Just you wait and see!
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A woman emerged from the smithy behind Pickett. She stared first at the retreating boys, then at Kitto. The look of concern on her face melted into disdain. You know who his father is? The blacksmith looked at Kitto with sad eyes.
Kitto turned away, unable to bear his pity. The most powerful man in this town? The door closed behind them, leaving Kitto and Duck alone.
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Kitto uncurled his body. He could feel the bruises forming on his back, on his head. Maybe Father would not know he had been fighting. I did what I could to help!
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His blue eyes filled. What could I have done? Kitto knew Duck could never understand. Get on home and leave me be! Down the alleyway toward the main lane he went, his head bobbing as he limped. Kitto cut past a crowd of sailors and made his way to the seawall. He threw himself to the ground at the wall, disgusted and miserable.