The Butcher's Daughter
Reviewed By: Avraham Azrieli
Avraham Azrieli is the author of "The Jerusalem Inception" and other novels. His website is: www.AzrieliBooks.com
“The Butcher’s Daughter” by Mark M. McMillin is a historical novel set during the sixteenth century, a truly golden era of high-stakes maritime exploits, warfare, and piracy, featuring a most unique protagonist: a female captain.
Captain Mary is an Irish bastard girl, who turns a modest inheritance into a flourishing Caribbean smuggling business with her own fast ships and devoted crew, only to find herself pulled down (and drawn back to the Old World) by a past sin—the justifiable killing of a prominent man. All this is happening as the New World offers a bright dawn of great riches, while back in the Old World, yet another great European war begins to brew. The two major world powers of the time, the Spanish and English monarchies, prepare their huge navies for a titan confrontation over wealth, religion, and personal royal grievances. Captain Mary’s neck is, therefore, saved from the block by Queen Elizabeth I’s desperate need for capable captains with ships and loyal crews, who could do battle against the Spaniards. Back in the New World, having regained her life in exchange for conducting attacks on Spanish ships and settlements, Captain Mary eventually joins Drake’s epic stand against the prodigious Spanish armada.
Author Mark M. McMillin (“Gather the Shadowmen,” “Prince of the Atlantic,” and “Napoleon’s Gold”) succeeds in creating a genuine feeling of a life at sea as it was then, dependent on the whims of the winds, the art of crude navigation, and the resilience of one’s soul. The cast of lively characters includes cameo appearances by historic figures, none less than Queen Elizabeth I herself. The protagonist, Captain Mary, is at once inimitable and original (as a female action figure in a naval story of this vintage and magnitude), as well as being human and credible. She tells the story in the first person, matter of fact, even when things get bloody. For example: “I drew my sword and led the first wave over the rails myself. My men and I took the forecastle first and then we charged across the main deck, slick with blood and gore, and made our way towards the stern where we encountered a handful of Dowlin’s crew amidships struggling to lower a boat in the water.”
In summary, “The Butcher’s Daughter” is a wonderful novel in the best tradition of maritime literature. The historical setting is completely authentic and rich with details, the characters are alive and passionate, and the plot is full of thrilling action, intense drama, and stunning surprises. In short, this exhilarating adventure takes the reader on an unforgettable journey to a fascinating world at a time when life was cheap, yet courage was golden. Highly recommended!