The Pine Reads Review Guide to Pirate Books


(I should probably clarify that this is not a guide on how to pirate books. Do not do that.)

Ahoy, mateys! At this point, my friends might call what I have a “pirate problem.” It started with the Pirates Dinner Adventure in Buena Park, CA. The music is great, the story is sweet, and the stunts are fantastic. I think I might know all the words to the show. I have also been playing “Drunken Sailor” almost daily for months now. If this is a problem, it is not one I am inclined to fix. In fact, I am of a mind to share it. Pirate stories inspire an exciting, adventurous spirit, so here are some books to help bring out your inner pirate. Aaarrrggghhh!

Compass and Blade by Rachel Greenlaw

On an island known as Rosevear, Mira is one of seven wreckers. Wreckers set traps for incoming ships so that they can steal whatever is on them. With her spiritual connection to the sea, Mira’s responsibility is to save any of the survivors of the ship, though there usually aren’t any. Wrecking is a dangerous job, one her mother died doing, not to mention that it is illegal. The Watch, Rosevear’s council, sets a trap to catch the wreckers, which results in the capture of Mira’s father, leaving her nine days to rescue him before he’ll be executed. Alongside Seth, a survivor of one of the wrecks with secrets of his own, Mira sets off to find a family secret left by her mother that she can use in exchange for her father’s life.

Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

The Mors Navis is a fierce, all-female ship captained by Caledonia Styx. She, like everyone else on her ship, has lost everything to the merciless Aric Athair and his army, the Bullets. Thus, they all have one goal: destroy Aric Athair. In one of their confrontations with Athair’s army, Caledonia’s best friend and first mate, Pisces, is kidnapped. Fortunately, Pisces is returned safely to the Mors Navis by a traitorous Bullet named Oran. Oran wants to join Caledonia’s crew, but due to her history with the Bullets, Caledonia is not sure she can trust him. After all, the last time she trusted one of them, her whole family wound up dead. On the other hand, maybe Oran can help Caledonia and her crew finally take down Aric Athair—assuming he doesn’t betray them, too.

Into the Sunken City by Dinesh Thiru

While still grieving the death of their father who died in a diving accident, Jin Haldar and her little sister, Thara, are trying to provide for themselves in a futuristic version of Arizona. In their world, the rain is endless (which is actually the case in monsoon season in Arizona), and a lot of the United States has sunk beneath all the excess water. The girls meet a vagabond named Bhili, who tells them of the treasures hidden within Treasure Island Casino in the sunken city of Las Vegas. Jin has promised herself never to dive again since her father died, but Thara is eager to go find the gold, though the mission requires an experienced diver. Though Jin knows the adventure will be dangerous, she would never let Thara go alone, especially since she is a better diver than Thara is. With a team that includes Jin’s ex-boyfriend, Jin and Thara encounter mysterious figures and mythical creatures as they learn just how dangerous treasure-hunting can be.

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

The pirate king’s daughter, Alosa, has been captured from her ship and is being held for ransom. It’s all going according to her plan. The Night Farer holds a map that Alosa has been tasked by her father to obtain by any means. As a hostage aboard the ship, she can search it at night while the crew sleeps. While she may be able to manipulate Captain Draxen fairly easily, his charming and handsome brother and first mate, Riden, is harder to work around. Finding the map should be easy for a pirating mastermind such as Princess Alosa, who is keen to get back to her own female-centered ship and crew. The longer it takes to find the map, the more frustrated she becomes and the closer she grows with Riden, much to her dismay. This was not part of the plan.

The Wicked Bargain by Gabe Cole Novoa

Mar León-de la Rosa is the child of their ship’s pirate captain who, long ago, made a deal with El Diablo. When El Diablo comes to collect the souls of the crew, Mar is left behind with nothing and no one. Luckily, they soon find themself aboard the ship of the last pirate crew in the Caribbean. Mar forges some reluctant friendships with both the captain’s irritating yet attractive son, Bas, and Dami, a demonio who seems to have their own agenda. Mar is also hiding a secret: they have fire and ice magic they fight to keep at bay for others’ protection. El Diablo returns to offer Mar a deal of their own: they can give up their own soul in exchange for their father’s or else lose him forever, and they have until the harvest moon to decide. Mar has no interest in making a deal, so they’ll have to rely on their found family and maybe even risk using their magic to beat El Diablo and save their father.

The Sea Knows My Name by Laura Brooke Robson

Thea Fowler is the daughter of the daring, unrelenting pirate Clementine Fowler, an ex-scientist whose research was ignored by her male colleagues, research that warned of an environmental disaster with tremendous casualties. To protect herself and Thea, Clementine built a life on the seas away from the men who would use her to repopulate. She has tried to raise Thea to be practical and callous, but Thea is nothing like her mother. She’s quiet and gentle. She hates the life her mother has created for them. Spending time with her best friend, Wes, is a reprieve for Thea because he values her warm nature, whereas her mother admonishes her for it. With her first boyfriend, Bauer, Thea thinks she’s found a way out of this life where she constantly lets her mother down. However, Bauer isn’t who Thea had thought. After his treachery, Thea has to find her own sense of strength that speaks to who she is as a person.

Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellison

The Lady Luck is a ship of women—and only women. It’s an agreed-upon rule amongst the crew, but Grace may just have to break it in order to find the Mordgris, a sea monster that took her mother years ago. When she rescues two brothers from the monster, she brings them aboard the ship. One of these young noblemen claims to have information on a map that could lead her straight to the Mordgris to avenge her mother. Having the young men on board starts a world of trouble amongst the crew, and Grace finds that there may be more secrets and lies on the Lady Luck than she realized. What’s more, to eliminate the Mordgris, she’ll have to double-cross the crew.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Li

Monty is far from the perfect gentleman his father wants him to be. Monty prefers to have fun through his favorite vices rather than being a responsible young nobleman, but, upon his return home from a trip through Europe, Monty is expected to take over the estate. This leaves him the rest of the journey to enjoy everything he loves and to spend time with his sister, Felicity, and his best friend, Percy. However, in anticipation of his dreadful life ahead, Monty acts a little too rash. This sets the trio off running across the continent in a chaotic manhunt, leaving Monty to rely on his companions and his own set of skills, all the while contemplating his feelings for Percy. While this one isn’t about pirates per se, pirates are still involved, causing mayhem by kidnapping the trio.

Crossbones by Kimberly Vale

The previous pirate king has died, and the position is up for grabs on the island of Cerulia. To win the Bone Crown and become the next ruler, one must win a competition simply known as the Trials. For Csilla, captain of the Scarlet Maiden, winning the crown would mean becoming the first pirate queen. No one would dare look down upon her, including her jealous older sister who covets Csilla’s position as a captain. For Kane, the Trials would be an opportunity for something new, something other than captaining his father’s old ship, the Iron Jewel. Then there is Lorelei, a farm girl who may have bit off more than she can chew in her attempt to catch her mother’s killer. She has snuck aboard the Iron Jewel and thus finds herself in the midst of a pirate adventure. All the while, word on the street is that there is a lost heir to the kingdom, which may dash the hopes of Kane and Csilla altogether, though not if the pirates can help it.

Abby Ballas, Pine Reads Review Writer & Editor