Review by Linnea ‘LiteralGrill’ Capps
The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper by Sir Julius Vogel Award-winning storyteller A. J. Fitzwater chronicles the adventures of, which may come as no surprise, Cinrak the Dapper! Cinrak doesn’t start out with this title however. The story begins with a young capybara orphan with aspirations to become a pirate. Throughout the seven stories within this collection, we get to see Cinrak come into herself by making friends, finding family, and going on many marvelous adventures. However, don’t come into this story with expectations of typical pirate adventures. While there is certainly the salt of the sea, these stories are no Pirates of the Caribbean styled affair. Often the story makes some fantastic twists on pirating tropes and the idea of the setting in general. It’s mentioned in the foreword, but these stories are designed with the concept of joy in mind. The stories are designed to have drama surrounded with mysteries, the payoffs with scenes of amazement and emotion.
The stories do make some large leaps in time, and we do miss some major moments in Cinrak’s life. For example, we do miss how the love of Cinrak’s life and her meet minus some small details. Some might find this disorienting in ways, though others might also enjoy trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I wasn’t quite sure if this was a negative myself, though it was a bit disorienting at times.
Despite this, the book does contain some marvelous strengths. I have rarely seen a world in a fantasy setting truly so fantastical! Everything comes to life, sometimes quite literally things you would not expect. There are countless species present, both animals and fantasy fare like fairies. Each story seems to unlock one of the many small mysteries of the world, all of which are fun to uncover. Several people would be sold on the four-word premise of the book alone: dapper lesbian capybara pirate. For those that aren’t, I want to look at the dedication for the book. “For the wary, weary traveller. Rest a while.” These stories have the power to uplift anyone needing a boost while sailing the stormy seas of life. I can recommend this book to those looking for well-written queer representation and those needing light reading to bring them some happiness. I enjoyed it quite thoroughly and am quite happy to have it on my shelf!