Ahoy! If ye be seeking adventure on the salty old seas, then step aboard, because have I got book recommendations for ye. But be warned: The ladies on this list are some of the fiercest ye will ever meet, and they’ll spare ye no pity. Cross them, and ye best start walking the plank to avoid their wrath.
Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
“Never underestimate the girls of this world.”
Pitched as Mad Max: Fury Road meets the feminine power of Wonder Woman, Seafire is a feminist pirate book I fell head over heels for. Not only does the action sinks its teeth into you and refuse to let go, but the entire cast is so fresh and the novel is abundant with diversity. Caledonia and her crew are some of the fiercest pirates you’ll ever meet, but they’re also incredibly loyal to one another. It was so refreshing to read a story about a group of young women who love and support one another, and who really try to build each other up. Yes! More of that, please! The Mors Navis crew is one I can definitely get behind, and I’m looking forward to reading more about their adventures in the sequels.
(Side note, I’m going to need a Hime and Amina story, stat!)
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
“Oh, the ridiculous things one has to do when one is a pirate.”
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I laughed out loud while reading this book. I actually had to go back and listen to the audiobook version of it too, just so I could fully appreciate Alosa’s sass and banter. As the daughter of the legendary and ruthless pirate king, the book takes place when Alosa deliberately gets herself captured by enemies in order to find a treasure map aboard their ship. I got ridiculous amounts of enjoyment watching her mess with her captors by stealing from and outsmarting them, and greatly appreciated just how feminine Alosa is while also being a total badass. She may be a skilled fighter and part of the scariest family to sail the seas, but if she’s going to take down her enemies, she’s going to make sure she looks great as she’s doing it. Alosa’s 100% a girl after my own heart. She’s got a sharp tongue, a quick wit, and a totally fun secret magic you’ll have to experience for yourself.
If you want a book with a sassy pirate captain who’s guaranteed to make you laugh, add this to your TBR immediately.
A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
Delilah Bard had a way of finding trouble.
And oh, what wonderful trouble it is. Lila Bard is hands down one of my favorite characters ever. This thief is fiercely independent, proud, cunning, and so unapologetically herself that you can’t not admire her. Lila’s got a huge case of wanderlust, and a refreshing love for power that makes her such a fascinating character. Lila won’t let anything come between her and her goals, and I’m so here for a girl who isn’t afraid to want, and to want loudly and without shame.
Also, can we just talk about the author for a second? If you haven’t read V.E. Schwab yet, then I don’t even know why you’re still reading this post and not running to the bookstore right now. Schwab is such an evocative, brilliant writer, and her books never fail to inspire.
Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian
“A queen without a crown, without a throne, without a coronation. What, exactly, do you imagine you’re queen of?”
There’s a good reason Dragonsbane (aka Kallistrade) is a pirate who’s so famed and respected. I loved this character in Ash Princess, and was so glad we got the opportunity to learn more about her in this sequel! Dragonsbane is such a hard and unrelenting character, so set in her beliefs and fiercely determined that it’s difficult to know at times whether she’s an enemy or a friend. There’s certainly more to Dragonsbane than meets the eye, but one thing is for sure—no one is going to be messing with this captain any time soon.
The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
“There are three ways of bettering yourself in the Pirates’ Confederation, Mama told me once: murder, mutiny, and marriage.”
Ananna wants nothing more than to captain her own ship. So when her parents try to marry her off instead, Ananna flees. What ensues is an adventure about a somewhat arrogant, cunning girl on the run from an assassin who’s been hired to track her down. But of course, things don’t always go as planned, and let’s just say that the assassin and the pirate are forced to work together in what I thought was one of the most delightful ways possible. Which, dare I say, is a trope I will never stop loving.
My favorite thing about Ananna was that she was a bit prickly and precocious, which are traits I adore in female characters. Her thievery and trickery also made for some highly entertaining scenes, and the banter gets a solid A+.
The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
“If wishes were fishes, aquariums would be much more terrifying.”
It may take a little while for Nix to accidentally get herself roped into piracy, but she’s an adventurer not to be forgotten! All about time travel, piracy, and a spectacularly unique magic rooted in navigation, Heilig’s novel is an absolute staple if you’re looking for more lady pirates in your life. I mean seriously, it’s got adventurer, gorgeous prose, a multicultural cast, and one of the coolest types of magic I’ve ever read. What more could you possibly want in a book?
Originally published February 2020.
Adalyn Grace graduated from Arizona State University when she was nineteen years old. She spent four years working in live theater and acted as the managing editor of a nonprofit newspaper before studying storytelling as an intern on Nickelodeon Animation’s popular series The Legend of Korra. Adalyn splits time between San Diego and Arizona with her bossy cat and two dorky dogs, and spends her days writing full-time while trying to find the best burrito around. All the Stars and Teeth is her debut novel.