Devil’s Ballast Review: Pros and Cons of Sailing the High Seas

December 28, 2020 by Bec | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

Devil’s Ballast Review: Pros and Cons of Sailing the High SeasDevil's Ballast by Meg Caddy
Published by Text Publishing on July 14th, 2020
Source: Publisher
Genres: New Adult, Action & Adventure, Historical
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Barnes & Noble
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Anne Bonny was eighteen when she ran away from her violent husband, James, into the arms of pirate captain Calico Jack Rackham. Now she’s ensconced aboard Jack’s ship Ranger, passing as a cabin boy and playing her ruthless part in a crew that is raining down mayhem and murder on the ships of the Caribbean. But James Bonny is willing to pay to get his ‘property’ back. And pirate-hunter Captain Barnet is happy to take his money.

The Ranger’s a fast ship: Anne might just be able to outrun Barnet. But can she outrun the consequences of her relationship with Calico Jack?

Devil's Ballast is action-packed yet nuanced, culturally relevant and sharp as a cutlass. Based on the true story of Anne Bonny, this new novel by the remarkable Meg Caddy brings to life one of history’s most fascinating anti-heroines.

The Good Things

  • I loved Caddy’s debut, Waer (it’s such a unique YA werewolf fantasy) so was excited to see how she took on pirates!
  • P.S. Aussie author!
  • Did I mention it’s an excellent standalone NA historical about pirates? Specifically Anne Bonny and Jack Rackham, with many more name drops.
  • I thought I knew where the story would go because I know a little bit about Bonny’s story. I was wrong. It surprised me!
  • Told in alternating POVs: first person present tense from Anne and third person from the villain Barnet.
  • Anne is super sassy and unapologetically an anti-hero.
  • A trans character has a fairly big role in the plot, especially in the second half.
  • Super addictive right from the beginning and easy to read. I read two thirds in one sitting and then finished it at 1AM. Easily one of my top reads of 2020!


The Not-So-Good Things

  • Considering how important Anne and Jack’s relationship was to driving the plot, they barely had any scenes together. We never really got to see how they got together either, since the story begins a few months after Anne joins the Ranger.
  • Their lack of scenes together meant I didn’t really care about their relationship all that much.
  • I would have loved to see more of Martin Read, especially earlier on in the novel. He was a quiet character but probably my favourite and we barely got to know him.


This cracking pirate standalone is one of my favourite reads of 2020. It went in a different direction I expected and kept me reading late into the night. My only real complaint is that I wanted more scenes between Jack and Anne to sell me on their relationship. Otherwise another fantastic book from Meg Caddy.

Rating: 4 stars

Trigger warning: Domestic violence

Have you ever read a book about pirates?

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Bec is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves all types of novels. Fantasy, sci fi, and historical are my usual go-to genres. If I’m not binge reading, I’m usually gaming, trying to take decent photos for bookstagram, or freaking out about silly things.

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