This short story is set 10 years before the saga picks up in the first book in the series, The Lady, previously reviewed here. The Captain of the Black-Eyed Susan is in debt to moneylender Copeland, who has set up events to ensure the Captain will be unable to pay on time. Copeland has seen the moneymaking potential of the ship and has no qualms about destroying the Captain and his son's lives.
This is a short piece but written in the same descriptive style, well edited and formatted, providing more of a background to the places and residents of Scarlock. Copeland is already scheming, and newly employed henchman Blakey is enjoying his role. This serves to fill out some of the key characters in the series and explain the motives behind some of their later actions.
It is hard for me to rate this as a standalone short story, having already read Book 1. However as a prequel it sheds more light on what happens subsequently and is a good companion piece. I'm looking forward to the arrival of Book 2 later this year!
Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 3*