Blog Tour: The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

Hello, reader!

Welcome to my stop on yet another #TheWriteReads Ultimate Blog Tour! As you can see by the colorful banner, today I’ll be talking about a middle grade book called The Ship of Shadows. And when I say “talk” what I really mean is “gush” because, my goodness, was this book incredible!

I’m getting ahead of myself, though. First, I want to thank Dave @The Write Reads, Puffin Books, and the author for allowing me access to a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. I am endlessly thankful for the opportunity and, sometimes, can’t believe how lucky I am to get to do stuff like this.

That aside, let’s dive into it!


“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.”

Book Details

  • Author: Maria Kuzniar
  • Publisher: Puffin Books
  • Publication date: July 16th, 2020
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age group: Middle Grade
Book Links


About the Author

Maria Kuzniar spent six years living in Spain, teaching English and travelling the world, which inspired her debut novel The Ship of Shadows. Now she lives in Nottingham with her husband, where she reads and writes as much as she can and bookstagrams at @cosyreads. She is always planning her next adventure.

Author Links


My Review

“Sometimes friends became family too. The family you chose to have when your lives cosied up against each other’s as if you’d always been there.”

We’re all readers here, I assume. You know that feeling when you become so engrossed in a book that everything else ceases to exist except the world of the book? That moment when you forsake basic needs like sleep and food because you don’t want to break your concentration? That’s one of my favorite feelings in the world. So, when I find a book that can make me feel that, I savor it.

The Ship of Shadows is a book to be savored.

We follow a young girl named Aleja, who is growing up in Seville, but dreams of exploring the world. She knows the world is more than just her family’s tavern, where she helps out during the day. She has no way to explore how she wishes to except through the tales she finds in books. And there are no few amount of people telling her that girls can’t be explorers, anyways. Then, one day, a mysterious ship sails into town with an even more mysterious crew. Aleja finds herself whisked away on an adventure she has always dreamed of by a gang of women pirates who need her help in a dangerous task.

Y’all. I’m finding it hard to form the words to tell you how much I loved this book. Because, my goodness, I LOVED THIS BOOK! There are pirates! Badass female pirates! And adventure! And cake! And… and… just… ARGH! *explodes in a cloud of happiness*

*deep breath*

Okay, now that I’ve got that out of my system, perhaps I can talk about The Ship of Shadows more coherently šŸ˜… The thing that I loved first and foremost about this book was the characters. Aleja, fierce and wonderful Aleja, is a perfect protagonist. She’s quick-witted and brave, with a touch of the dreamer and a heart ready for exploration. She has doubts, she has flaws (she’s terrible at spying, for one šŸ˜‰), and it’s wonderful to watch her grow in the short span of this book. And Aleja is just the icing on the beautifully-crafted character cake! The entire crew of the Ship of Shadows had such dimension and depth that I found myself caring for each and every one of them. I want to steal cake with Frances. I want to have weapons training with Malika. I want to hang out with Captain Quint and pet her owl! I became thoroughly invested in the characters and I was more than a little sad when I had to let them go at the end of the book.

But a book cannot thrive on excellent characters alone. I mean, it can try, but what is a story without a plot? And the plot of this book is as daring and exciting as one would expect from a story populated by pirates! This is a definite page-turner, especially once Aleja has found herself on the Ship of Shadows. There’s just so much happening and you are eager to devour every bit of it! You want to find out the ship’s many secrets as much as Aleja does and you can’t help but wrap yourself up in the central quest. I think the only thing I found lacking about the plot was how abrupt the ending felt. I wanted more, dangit! I was so wrapped up in the story!

Speaking of being wrapped up in the story, the author’s rich and evocative writing style certainly helps to ensnare you. The lush descriptions and the beautiful prose made me feel like I was riding the waves right alongside the crew. And the food descriptions! I have an insatiable sweet tooth (much like Frances) and some of the descriptions of the cakes had me drooling šŸ˜‹ Maria Kuzniar has a way of crafting a story that makes me so excited to see what she comes out with next!

Final thoughts: This is what every daring tale of pirates and adventure strives to be. It’s fantastical! It’s fun! It’s thrilling! And, in the midst of all this daring-do and swashbuckling, there’s a warm heart to this story that made me fall in love. It’s a beautiful story of friendship and longing and finding where you fit. And there’s cake so… *thumbs up*!

Star rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

2 thoughts on “Blog Tour: The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

  1. […] The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar: This is a book I read for a #TheWriteReads Ultimate Blog Tour. It’s a middle grade fantasy that features women pirates, thrilling adventures, and cake! I absolutely adored this book and think the target audience would love it even more than I did. You can read my full review here. […]


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