Review: Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

brown cinnamon and gunpowderCinnamon and Gunpowder

Eli Brown

318 pages

Published in 2013 by FSG

Source: Public Library

She was lurid and terrible to see, the fallen Lucifer on the water, blind to the pelicans moving like gnats across her bow.  . .

It’s 1819 and highly renowned Chef Owen Wedgewood has been kidnapped and is now a prisoner on the pirate ship, The Flying Rose. The ship’s captain, Mad Hannah Mabbot strikes a deal with the terrified chef: cook a delicious one-of-a-kind meal every Sunday for the captain and she will let him live. Disappoint Mad Hannah and Owen will die. Surrounded by pirates and chased by a genius set on revenge, will Owen survive this crazy adventure?

I don’t think I’ve ever read a pirate story before reading Cinnamon and Gunpowder. I’ve never wanted to until reading Candace’s spotlight post on this book a few months ago. This story is not what I thought a pirate’s tale would be. It’s much more. Themes like slavery, ignorance, and the opium wars going on during this time period are tackled throughout the book, but this is still a light and humorous read and there’s plenty of talk about food.

Since Owen’s a chef, this novel is packed with realistic passages about food and spices. Being on a pirate ship, it’s hard to get the supplies Owen is used to but he often manages without every week. Reading all the descriptions of Owen’s methods and meals makes me wonder how the author was able to pull this off. I know he did plenty of research but did he cook these meals in advance? Whatever way Brown did it, he did a fantastic job.

Not only did the passages about food stand out, so did the characters. Owen is used to working for the rich so he has no idea about the suffering going on around him and in other countries. A judgmental “good Christian”, all Owen first sees the crew of The Flying Rose as a bunch of heathens committing sin and a bloodthirsty captain. But after traveling with the pirates and being caught in several conflicts, Owen’s eyes start to open and he realizes how wrong he’s been.

Mad Hannah Mabbot is now one of my favorite literary characters. She’s a kick-ass pirate who is set on revenge as she searches around the globe for a thief called Red Fox. She can be ruthless at times but also gentle and forgiving of Owen’s ignorance and the plight of those around her. She can get dirty with the rest of her crew but also loves elegant food and music.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder is a swashbuckling tale for fiction lovers of all kinds. My rating: 4 ½ out of 5 stars.


About Vasilly

Mother, daughter, sister, college student, bookworm, lover of chocolate and coffee.
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18 Responses to Review: Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

  1. readerbuzz says:

    Not sure if I’ve ever read a pirate story either (well, except for How I Became a Pirate). Glad to see you liked it so much.

  2. I absolutely must read this one. So so so excited!

  3. BermudaOnion says:

    I met the author and thought he was so nice. I’m glad to see his book is good!

  4. Yes! I keep hearing great things about this one and now I’m even more excited to read it. Mad Hannah Mabbot sounds amazing, I want to know more about her!

  5. bookworm says:

    Cinnamon and Gunpowder sounds fantastic. I need to check this one out.

  6. Hahaha, this sounds amazing. It sounds amazing because that is a wonderful premise, but it especially sounds amazing because it sounds like it doesn’t coast on its wonderful premise.

  7. heidenkind says:

    Thanks for reviewing this book! I randomly ran across it in the library but wasn’t sure I would get to it. I’m definitely making time for it now; it sounds awwwwwwwwwwesoooooooooomme.

  8. aartichapati says:

    Great review, Vasilly! I don’t read many pirate books, either, but how can the subject NOT entertain, right? I’ll definitely look into getting this one!

  9. Megan says:

    This sounds like a really unique read. It’s going on my wish list straight away. Great review!

  10. Pingback: Sunday Salon: Favorite Books of Summer | 1330v

  11. Anastasia says:

    Yay for books about pirates! And this one sounds especially good– totally adding it to my wishlist.

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