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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton

This gorgeously written postapocalyptic climate-fiction story offers up a future in which civilization buckles to the power of weather and ocean while certain species thrive in the extreme changes and shifted conditions.

In Lily Brooks-Dalton's novel The Light Pirate, pregnant Frida and her husband and stepsons prepare for another catastrophic hurricane bearing down on Florida, one in a string of never-ending storms threatening to destroy the state from the outside in.

Her husband Kirby disappears in the heart of the storm to locate the kids, who have run off for some ill-advised exploring. Meanwhile Frida gives birth to a child, Wanda, who she names after the storm, and who has a special gift.

Experts have long offered warnings about the expected impacts of the ongoing global weather changes and the destruction to society that is possible, but few could have imagined the unraveling of society that takes place after the wind and water's devastation, compounded as additional storms continue to strike.

This is a beautifully written novel with a haunting postapocalyptic tone and vivid setting. The shadow of real-life global warming and weather changes add to the power of the story, and the touch of magical realism is both essential to the plot and a lovely element.

The characters of Frida and neighbor Phyllis are irresistible, and I loved the ways in which they adjust, adapt, grieve, press on, and form a makeshift family from their friendship. The way the sea persistently erodes all evidence of civilization kept reminding me of the Talking Heads song "Nothing But Flowers," and Brooks-Dalton's climate fiction descriptions of living with water, exposed to weather, and within the parameters of extreme heat and the safety of darkness were striking. The Light Pirate offers unexpected redemption, tragedy, and some beautiful resolutions.

I didn't feel that the title evoked the tone or heart of the story, but I just loved this book.

I received a prepublication edition of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing.

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