A Shot of Oakies: The Olde Rosie Chronicles, Volume 1

Alex Bennett

Publisher: Xlibris Pages: 334 Price: (paperback) $19.99 ISBN: 9781669862635 Reviewed: September, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

The first in a proposed trilogy, A Shot of Oakies is an historical novel set in the Caribbean in 1785. An old sea captain visiting Henry’s, a tavern in Kingston, Jamaica, regales a small gathering with tales of pirates, whiskey, and a Jacobite uprising.

His story begins with Clarkeson, a beautiful, one-eyed, Irish sea captain operating in the Caribbean in the early 1740’s. Captain of The Black Irish, she commands her men in Gaelic and ruthlessly attacks any English vessel attempting to carry Oakies, a locally brewed whisky, across the Atlantic to England. Nearly everyone describes the whiskey as “uisge beatha.” a Gaelic term meaning “water of life.”

Henry’s patrons are intrigued by the old captain and supply him with drinks to continue. He soon introduces the story of Mairi, an adept Scottish businesswoman who produces and sells Oakies,

As hours pass, the captain begins another plot strand about his own youthful adventures on a Royal Navy messenger ship in the Mediterranean, chasing pirates amid rumors of French support for a Jacobite Rebellion. Ship life is well-portrayed and the author appears knowledgeable about different vessels and naval fighting strategies.

The captain promises his story will coalesce, but that doesn’t occur in this volume. With four separate narratives—the tavern, Clarkeson, Mairi, and the captain when younger—there are too many characters to follow, particularly in the tavern, where two of the patrons are called Jack. Additionally, Clarkeson and Mairi are too similar (e.g,, both “cackle” repeatedly), and it’s disappointing to see “uisge beatha” misspelled more than once.

A weak attempt at dialect where characters say “ye” and “yer” (for “you”) and your, “fer” (for “for”) and where apostrophes replace the letter g at the end of words, makes this a tiresome read. The use of Gaelic commands in all caps followed by translations within direct speech (for example “CUARDAIGH! [search]”) is highly distracting.

In all, this story needs revision to appeal to a wide audience.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

 

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