Buccaneers and Brachiosauruses: A review of Pirates of Pangaea

Sometimes I forget that, as a twenty-nine-year-old who passes quite well for a proper adult, I’m not exactly the target audience for The Phoenix comic. Not that it matters. As with so many other things – Harry Potter, the Avatar and Korra cartoon series – it’s proof that there’s no age limit on good storytelling, and every week, I happily sit down to catch up on Bunny versus Monkey and Corpse Talk.

Thanks to my Phoenix subscription, I’ve read a lot of Daniel Hartwell and Neill Cameron’s other comics, but I subscribed a little too late to catch their collaborative work, Pirates of Pangaea. When I heard that David Fickling Books was publishing a collected volume, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on a review copy, because come on – pirates and dinosaurs in the same story. What’s not to love?


I read the book in one dinosaur-sized gulp. The heroine, Sophie, travels to the newly-discovered island of Pangaea to live with her uncle, the Governor – but as soon as she arrives, her ship (hoisted onto the back of a sauropod to travel across the island’s perilous ‘Sea of Green’) is captured by pirates. Meeting the young kidnapee Timothy Kelsey and a slightly less dastardly pirate, Ten Gun Jones, Sophie escapes the pirates, survives in the wild, and trains her own dinosaur, a bright blue Tyrannosaurus Rex she dubs Cornflower.

Pirates of Pangaea is everything that my inner eight-year-old wants in a story – a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails heroine, a beautifully imaginative setting, and a strongly-built world. Hartwell and Cameron have thought of every potential aspect of a society where humans and dinosaurs live alongside each other, from the ways dinosaurs are worked, to the slang people use to describe them (“long-necks”, “tyrants” and “razorbeaks”, to name but a few). Treasure Island meets Jurassic Park, Pirates of Pangaea is a thrilling and compelling read that will appeal to children both official and unofficial, and I can’t wait for the next volume.

Alice’s books are available on Amazon and Smashwords. Her webcomic, co-created and illustrated by Emily Brady, can be found at the Footloose website. Ally rambles about writing, feminism, and odd questions that cross her mind on Twitter and Facebook.


About Alice Nuttall

Alice Nuttall is a caffeine-guzzling knitter who divides her time between Oxford and the various worlds in her head. She is the author of a YA fantasy novel, Spider Circus, and three webcomics, Footloose, Cherry, and Black Market Magic, as well as several short stories.
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