Historical Fiction Award-Winning Novel Filled with Swashbuckling, Page-Turning Fun
I read “Quintspinner” because I sponsored the award in the Historical Fiction category for the Reader Views Literary Awards. It was the first year I had sponsored the award, and since I had no role in the judging, I was curious to see what book would win. And I was not disappointed by the results. I was excited to hear a historical novel about pirates was the winner because I figured it would be a good read, but I had no idea what a talented writer Dianne Greenlay would be or what a great story she would spin. I was thrilled, after reading “Quintspinner” that it had won, and the award is well-deserved.
“Quintspinner” is the story of Tess Willoughby, who lives in 1717 London. Tess, while walking through the marketplace of London, meets an old crone who reveals that Tess is a “quintspinner,” someone who can control five magic rings. The crone says it’s proven by the birthmark Tess has. When the crone is soon after murdered, Tess is left with many questions about her past and the destiny that lies before her, as well as the bejeweled ring the crone has left to her.
Tess soon after finds herself on a journey to the West Indies with her adoptive parents. Worse, her adoptive father arranges for her betrothal to the man she witnessed murder the crone. But Tess also finds herself falling in love with a young sailor who was pressed into service on the ship along with his father. All these characters are in for the adventure of their lives, as is soon revealed when the ship is attacked by a pirate ship. Without going into the plot further, a great deal of action, high seas adventures, some magic, and a couple twists of fate make “Quintspinner” a novel never to be forgotten and even to be read and enjoyed again and again. Early on, Tess knows there are five spinner rings, but at the end of the novel, she only has three—a sure sign that a sequel is coming, and I can’t wait to read it.
To me, “Quintspinner” is the quintessential pirate adventure novel. It reminded me of “Treasure Island,” but it was much more fast-paced and interesting than that somewhat boring book, and it reminded me of “Pirates of the Caribbean” for its action and magic, but without the quirky and somewhat stupid characterizations of those films. Like a good adventure movie—and this book would make an excellent film—we move from scene to scene, fluctuating between two storylines that soon come together. The settings in London, on the high seas, and in the West Indies create great visual scenes as a backdrop for a tale of love, adventure, secrets, and magic. I hope the epic Disney film version is not far off.
What I most appreciated about “Quintspinner” was the powerful, effective writing. The book is Dianne Greenlay’s first published novel, but I suspect she has been working at her craft for quite some time. She knows how to write crisp, tight dialogue, effective scenes, and short chapters that keep the plot moving, keep the action going, and keep the reader interested. More than a writer, she is a true novelist for how she masterfully handles all the elements that make good fiction.
If you love a great adventure novel, put “Quintspinner” at the top of your list. You won’t be disappointed.
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