Blog Tour Book Review: THE SHIP OF SHADOWS by Maria Kuznair (Middle Grade Monday)

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in white next to image of book on orange
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone(?)


Book cover for THE SHIP OF SHADOWS: title above a window in an orange wall overlooking a sea and boat, surrounded by trees, pirates, and loot

Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always being told that girls can’t be explorers.

But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.

Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates – and discover what they are risking everything to find.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


This was such a fun middle grade adventure, full of magic and pirates on a quest. The ship’s all-female crew are bursting with character and all have different skills – thief, navigator, swordswoman, crackshot, and more – which helps them wriggle out of a few tight spots.

There are several sequences that feel like episodes out of beloved franchises – like Pirates of the Caribbean and Aladdin – all woven together. It fits perfectly, blending a dash of magic and adventure that carries the story across the high seas and into the desert on a quest.

There is an enemy dogging their steps, but the main antagonists are the creatures and landscapes the characters travel though. This gives the story a nostalgic feel like classic fantasy quests, where the route itself is full of dangers.

The exactly time period of the world isn’t easy to pin down. It’s an alternate world set in an undefined historical period around Spain and Morocco. I think it’s set sometime after or around the Spanish Golden Age as there is talk of the Americas. However, it’s not very modern as the big technology is single-shot pistols. The lack of specific time frame helps the book feel just out of reach and lets the magic blend in.

The ship is bursting with magic, shadows and ghosts seeped into the wood. There are rooms that appear and disappear, as well as a library bursting with coded books and a captain with plenty of secrets.

I can’t find anything on Goodreads or the author’s website to say this is a series, but it certainly feels like it could be the start of a four book series as there’s a lot map missing… I hope there will more adventures coming!

Read my reviews of other books by Maria/M. A. Kuzniar:

Middle Grade:

The Ship of Shadows (this series):



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