Elevate Difference

Pirate Talk or Mermalade

I liked most things about this book. My childlike love for pirates and mermaids created my bias for the title. Using an unique concept, Pirate Talk or Mermalade is a novel written entirely in dialogue. An interesting plot is boasted: "two brothers meet a mermaid, fall into pirating, and end up in the Arctic." The quotes used in the beginning of the book are beautiful. Lastly, Terese Svoboda's writing is engaging and skilled.

What I disliked, and actually ruined the book for me, however, was its poor choice of layout. Allow me to explain. This book is written completely in "pirate talk" between two characters. This would work well if it was written like a theatrical script, listing the names next to the lines of dialogue. However, no names are ever used in this book. The next person's line is only indented as a cue for the audience. Pirate Talk or Mermalade also lacked narration of any kind. This would have been helpful while navigating its heavy speech.

It was difficult for me to read sprawling dialogue for so many pages. I was usually too concerned with figuring out who was saying what instead of paying attention to the advancement of the story. Once I figured out who was speaking, the chapter would end, sending me back to a confusing start. I felt my mind growing weary and my eyes going crossed with each page. On the back cover, it is mentioned the author specifically wrote this book for Talk Like A Pirate Day.

It seems that Pirate Talk or Mermalade is meant to be a novelty. But the book's whimsical streak turned out to be its greatest weakness. This is a shame. Everything else about the book creates the foundation for a terrific novel. With some minor editing, it could become an interesting, engaging story that is also accessible to read. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if these brothers became something akin to Harry Potter.

Written by: Jacquie Piasta, October 3rd 2010