Pirate-based adventure fantasy for readers who like a good sailor's yarn
Come and meet Captain Jesamiah Acorne and his woman - the White Witch, Tiola Oldstagh.

Pirate-based adventure fantasy for readers who like a good sailor's yarn

Come and meet Captain Jesamiah Acorne and his woman - the White Witch, Tiola Oldstagh.

Series Prequel Mermaid Sings
amazon uk Voyage One Sea Witch
amazon uk Voyage Two
Pirate Code
amazon uk Voyage Three
Bring It Close
amazon uk
The Sea Witch Voyages are published in English by Penmore Press,
in Italian by Catnip Edizioni and in German by Sadwolf Verlag
Voyage Four Ripples in the Sand
amazon uk Voyage Five
On The Account
amazon uk Voyage Six
Gallows Wake
amazon uk
The First Voyage
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~ Sea Witch

The First Voyage

The Time: The Golden Age of Piracy, 1716
The Place: The Pirate Round, from the South African Coast to the sun-drenched islands of the Caribbean

Escaping the bullying of his elder half-brother, from the age of fifteen Jesamiah Acorne has been a pirate with only two loves - his ship and his freedom. But his life is to change when he and his crewmates unsuccessfully attack a merchant ship off the coast of South Africa.

He is to meet Tiola Oldstagh, an insignificant girl, or so he assumes - until she rescues him from a vicious attack, and almost certain death, by pirate hunters. And then he discovers what she really is; a healer, a midwife - and a white witch. Her name, an anagram of "all that is good." Tiola and Jesamiah become lovers, but the wealthy Stefan van Overstratten, a Cape Town Dutchman, also wants Tiola as his wife and Jesamiah's jealous brother, Phillipe Mereno, is determined to seek revenge for resentments of the past, a stolen ship and the insult of being cuckolded in his own home.

When the call of the sea and an opportunity to commandeer a beautiful ship - the Sea Witch - is put in Jesamiah's path, he must make a choice between his life as a pirate or his love for Tiola. He wants both, but Mereno and van Overstratten want him dead.

In trouble, imprisoned in the darkness and stench that is the lowest part of his brother's ship, can Tiola with her gift of Craft, and the aid of his loyal crew, save him?

Using all her skills Tiola must conjure up a wind to rescue her lover, but first she must brave the darkness of the ocean depths and confront the supernatural being, Tethys, the Spirit of the Sea, an elemental who will stop at nothing to claim Jesamiah Acorne's soul and bones as a trophy.

The Second Voyage
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~ Pirate Code

The Second Voyage

Ex-pirate, Captain Jesamiah Acorne, is in trouble. Big trouble. All he wants is to marry his girl, Tiola Oldstagh, and live contented aboard his ship, Sea Witch. But her husband refuses to grant a divorce unless Jesamiah agrees to retrieve some barrels of indigo and smuggle them out of the Spanish-held Caribbean island of Hispaniola.

The Governor of Nassau wants Jesamiah to go there too, to help incite a rebellion, and Captain Henry Jennings wants him to find a lost spy. To cap it all, Commodore Vernon of the Royal Navy wants to expand his fleet and craves the Sea Witch for himself.

As Jesamiah's hopes for a quiet life tumble about him, the onset of war with Spain scuppers everyone's plans. Hispaniola is governed by a tyrant who has promised to hang, draw and quarter Jesamiah if ever he sets foot there again, while the lovely widow, Senora Francesca Escudero would prefer to seduce him.
The Third Voyage
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~ Bring It Close

The Third Voyage

Jesamiah Acorne, Captain of the Sea Witch, has accepted a government-granted amnesty against his misdeeds of piracy, but old enemies do not forget the past. In particular Edward Teach - better known as Blackbeard - has a bone to pick with Acorne. Following an indiscretion with an old flame, Jesamiah finds his fiancée, the midwife and white witch Tiola Oldstagh, has gone to North Carolina to help with an imminent and difficult birth. The problem; that is where Blackbeard now resides.

He must not discover that Tiola is Jesamiah's woman, she will have to hide her identity and her gift of Craft from the black-hearted pirate who has sold his soul to the devil. With Sea Witch damaged and himself wounded by Blackbeard, Jesamiah has to take stock of his situation at his old home in Virginia - but trouble follows him like a ship's wake and he is arrested for acts of piracy on the High Seas.

Too much trouble has come too close!

How is Jesamiah Acorne to clear his name, overturn a sentence of hanging, keep Tiola safe, put an end to Blackbeard and deal with being haunted by the ghost of his father? Bring It Close moves from the Bahamas to North Carolina and Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia at a swashbuckling pace. There is intrigue, misunderstanding, romance and adventure all wrapped up in a delightful blend of mystical fantasy.
The Fourth Voyage
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~ Ripples In The Sand

The Fourth Voyage

Approaching England's North Devon Coast Captain Jesamiah Acorne is worried. A Royal Navy frigate is trailing in his wake and Sea Witch has a hidden cache of brandy and indigo aboard. His instinct is to hoist full sail and flee, but he cannot attract attention, for his wife, Tiola, is ill and getting worse. She says the sea is affecting her, but Jesamiah has never seen seasickness like this before - is it something worse; something to do with her being a white witch perhaps?

Like a growing storm, his worries get deeper, darker and more sinister.

Tiola's brother, Ben, is in gaol, arrested for smuggling. At a loss of how to help him, opportunity comes in the unexpected form of Sir Ailie Doone - the last of the notorious Doone family of Exmoor. He offers Jesamiah a highly secret but lucrative commission to go to Spain and bring back to England a man who will lead a Jacobite rebellion. It seems an ideal solution, but first Jesamiah must break young Ben out of gaol. Once escaped from the threat of the gallows, the boy can sail with Jesamiah on the Sea Witch leaving Tiola ashore to recover in peace.

Except, being captured and interrogated by the Spanish and meeting with an old friend, the beautiful English spy Francesca, is not part of Jesamiah's plan. Once again he is in danger of losing his fidelity, his freedom and maybe even his life.

Tiola meanwhile, has her own fears to face. Why is the ethereal spirit of the sea, Tethys, so determined to have Jesamiah for her own? To save him, Tiola must find a way to recall her previous lives and discover why events of the past have influenced the hatreds of the present.

Like ripples in the sand blending together when disturbed, she must influence the fragile ripples of time.
The Fifth Voyage
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~ On The Account

The Fifth Voyage

Captain Jesamiah Acorne is in trouble. Again. Arrested for treason and smuggling, believing his beloved ship Sea Witch lies wrecked on England's North Devon Coast, his only hope of escaping the noose is for someone to quash the charges. That someone turns out to be his ex-lover - but there's a price to pay.

He needs to find a boy who has disappeared, and a valuable casket that more than one person wants to get their hands on. When people start getting murdered and Barbary pirates kidnap his wife Tiola, his priorities rapidly change - but who is lying about what?

Is returning to piracy a wise idea?

Is Tiola having an affair with her mysterious Night-Walker 'friend'?

Meanwhile, Tiola has her own battles to fight - keeping herself and Jesamiah alive!
The Sixth Voyage
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~ Gallows Wake

The Sixth Voyage

Damage to her mast means Sea Witch has to be repaired, but the nearest shipyard is at Gibraltar. Unfortunately for Captain Jesamiah Acorne, several men he does not want to meet are also there, among them, Captain Edward Vernon of the Royal Navy, who would rather see Jesamiah hang.

Then there is the spy, Richie Tearle, and manipulative Ascham Doone who has dubious plans of his own. Plans that involve Jesamiah, who, beyond unravelling the puzzle of a dead person who may not be dead, has a priority concern regarding the wellbeing of his pregnant wife, the white witch, Tiola.

Forced to sail to England without Jesamiah, Tiola must keep herself and others close to her safe, but memories of the past, and the shadow of the gallows haunt her. Dreams disturb her, like a discordant lament at a wake.

But is this the past calling, or the future?
In the Beginning
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~ Origin

How the idea for Sea Witch and Captain Jesamiah Acorne was born

The agent sat thoughtfully in her office chair puffing at her cigarette. "What you need to do, darling, is write a fantasy novel."

"But I don't really do fantasy, do I? I spent ten years writing my Arthurian trilogy without any fantasy whatsoever because I wanted to remove Arthur from the myth and magic."

"Yes but Harry Potter is all the rage. Why not write something for teenagers?"

The author trudged down the four flights of stairs and out into the London rain. She crossed the road opposite the Ritz, wondering if she could afford tea there. Checking her purse, she toddled into Joe's cafe instead.

She really didn't want to write fantasy. Nor for teenagers. She liked writing historical fiction, she liked character interaction, the 'what motivates people', the invention of characters and what makes them tick. She liked writing about rugged heroes that were the sort of men you wouldn't want to get into a drinking contest with, but who would, all the same, be there to fix the fuse… and know where the torch is!


A holiday. Dorset. A wet, windy October afternoon. The rain had poured all morning, but by early afternoon a weak, apologetic sun was squinting from behind a barricade of grey cloud. The author decided to walk the dogs on the beach. She armed herself with weapons against the weather. A hat, a coat, wellies and her iPod.

All week she had been researching her latest interest; the truth behind pirates. Now the film she had seen - and the character she had fallen hook-line-and-sinker in love with - was all very well, but it was not historically accurate. Tortuga, for instance, was cleared of pirates in the 1600's, Port Royal was no longer a town, just a naval base. Pirates did not turn into skeletons. But they did wear bright ribbons, wave cutlasses about, get drunk and have an awful lot of fun.

As she was walking down the steep cliff-path, minding the bunny burrows and reminding one of the dogs that it was not a good idea to get stuck down one again, as he had yesterday, and the day before, she wondered, "What would happen if a charming rogue, such as Jack Sparrow, met up with a white witch? Not someone like prissy Hermione in the Harry Potty books, someone more like Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars? A good witch, who had the Craft. She can't do magic, has no wand or spells, but she can summon a wind, or talk to her lover via telepathy - if he is not blocking her thoughts.

The author crossed the stream at the bottom of the cliff, that smelt suspiciously of things that were not fishy (or were fishy, in the dodgy sense of the word) and stepped onto the beach. Immediately she was almost knocked over by a blast from the wind and the dogs went haring off after those two seagulls that had been bugging them all week.

The tide was ebbing, the breakers all white-foam and rolling excitement. She walked along the wet sand, listening to the soundtrack of Pirates of the Caribbean, cursing because the earpiece kept falling out of her ear.

She had the beach more or less to herself. Even the seagulls had gone, although one of the dogs did find a dead crab.

Sitting on a rock, she gazed out at the ocean. Well, it was the English Channel really, but an author has a vivid imagination. It was not too difficult to picture the hot sun of the Caribbean, waving palm trees, the rich turquoise blue of the sea … although that would have been easier had it not rained again. Quickly, she switched to a different scene. The Florida reefs, 1715. Eleven Spanish galleons went down, laden with treasure.

What if… what if… her mind was racing, her heart beginning to thud with excitement. What if there was a twelfth ship that went down? A pirate ship? A ship that a young, handsome rogue had just commandeered? His first captaincy … he survived the storm, would want to get another ship as soon as possible.... he had a brother, a half brother, who had bullied him as a child… a brother who had burnt his only possession, a boat called ...... called..... Acorn! Yes, boats were made from oak … yes, Acorn! The Author was getting REALLY excited now! The boy - for he was only a boy then … fled the Virginia tobacco plantation and became a pirate.

He had a few adventures, got rich on plunder, but was, underneath all the swagger and pretence, lonely. It was alright having whores crumpets and strumpets, but there was also the horror of the hangman's noose dangling over him. Then one day … one day he meets a girl. He was in deep shit, wounded and being chased by East India Company agents and this girl… no, not a girl … this white witch … rescues him. They fall in love, but he misses the sea. Because of … er, because of (the author decided to think of a "because of" later) because of dah di dah happening, there is a mix up. The pirate assumed the girl didn't love him any more. And the girl, who was really a white witch, thought the pirate didn't love HER anymore. So they were both very miserable for a few months. The pirate found solace in a rum bottle (as pirates do) and the girl gave in and married the rich creep who had been pestering her all this time.

Then the pirate's brother caught up with him (very annoyed because the pirate had stolen his ship - one that happened to be full of tobacco to be taken to England to be sold.)

The author's backside was getting a bit numb, so she moved to a softer rock, but found that the cushioning sea weed was wet, so walked on up the beach instead.

The annoyed bully brother is in league with the creep who married the girl… Tiola! the author thought, her name is Tiola. Tiola what? The author kicked at a piece of drift wood, then cursed in true pirate fashion. There was a rock behind the piece of wood that she hadn't seen. Tiola is a good witch, she is all that is good… a.l.l. t.h.a.t. i.s. g.o.o.d … an anagram! An anagram of … furious muttering … an anagram of Tiola Oldstagh. Yes!

The author walked on, she was nearing the far side of the bay now, and the tumble of rocks that were full of fossils and things. Or so the guide books said. She was blowed if she could find one.

Okay… the annoyed bully brother is in league with the creep who married the girl Tiola. The two men are plotting to capture the pirate and have him hanged - Captain Woodes Rogers, a real figure in history, has just become Governor of Nassau and is offering a pardon to all pirates. The two creeps arrange to meet at Nassau, guessing that the pirate will turn up, looking for amnesty. Which he does - but the bully brother nabs him and chains him up in the bilge of a ship and heads off back to Virginia where he has promised the other creep that he will hang … only the bully brother has no intention of hanging the pirate, he wants to have his fun first and punish the pirate for stealing his ship.

Tiola is a witch and she loves her pirate. She tells the creep who is her (forced) husband to go jump in a lake and boarding the pirate's ship (which he has called Sea Witch) sets off in pursuit of her true love - having to conjure up a wind to do so .... meanwhile because the witch is a witch and because the ship is special, the girl and the ship sort of become one and .... and the author could see a small sub-plot coming here, something about Tethys, goddess of the sea who wanted the pirate for herself ....


The author was quite pleased, it seemed a good basic plot. Lots of character interaction, the chance to get to know these two young lovers, the boy meets girl, boy falls in love, boy loses girl then finds her again plot, but if Shakespeare could use it over and over ... not that the author was anywhere as good as Shakespeare, but she had five other books published and loads of people seemed to enjoy her writing style and the way she brought life into her characters and made them real ... and her fans particularly said she was good at creating loveable rogues ... look at her creation Arthur for instance!

So all she needed was her pirate. She couldn't use Jack Sparrow (as much as she would like to use him!) ... she had reached the rocks, turned around. The wide sweep of the beach was deserted. The rain had washed away everyone, who normally came to the beach of an afternoon. She looked at the wet sand where the tide was scurrying in with lace-edged patterns of foam. Saw a man standing there, twenty or thirty yards away. He was tall, rugged. Had an untidy chaos of curled, dark hair, with a few blue ribbons fluttering in the wind tied into it. He wore knee high boots, a faded coat and a three-cornered hat. He was looking out to sea but he turned, grinned at her, showing the flash of two gold teeth. With his left hand, he took off his hat and with his right, gave the author a small, acknowledging salute.

An earring dangled from one ear... an earring shaped like an acorn.

"Hello Jesamiah Acorne," said the author.

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~ Reviews

"In the sexiest pirate contest Jesamiah Acorne gives Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow a run for his money."
Sharon Penman

"Sea Witch gives us everything we want in a grand pirate adventure - swashbuckling action, great villains, lovely women in distress, sea fights and adventures on land, all grounded in solid research that gives the book a real feel of authenticity. This is a terrific read for lovers of pirate tales, lovers of historical fiction, and lovers of great adventure stories."
James L. Nelson

"A wonderful swash-buckler of a novel. Fans of Pirates of the Caribbean will love this to pieces of eight! A fabulous splash of piratical adventure on the high seas. Prepare to be abducted by a devil-may-care pirate and enchanted by a white witch. Mayhem and magic, splendour and squalor, beautiful ships, dangerous pirates and wild women, Helen Hollick has written a fabulous historical adventure that will have you reading into the small hours!"
Elizabeth Chadwick

"Hollick deftly weaves magic with history to create a spellbinding account of Blackbeard's last days, leaving the reader filled with awe, remorse, wonder, and horror."
Cindy Vallar
Editor, Pirates and Privateers

"Helen Hollick's writing is very rich and lush. I'm very impressed."
Suzanne McLeod
Author of spellcrackers.com fantasy novels