Pirates. Everybody loves a swashbuckling pirate, right? They’re dangerous. They’re ambitious. They sail. And, if they play their cards right, they get to rock some smudged eyeliner.
I personally am a total sucker for pirates stories. Back in high school, I read Bloody Jack and its only sequel that was out at the time. Its a classic girl-pretends-to-be-a-boy-to get-what-she-wants tale because being a girl gets you nowhere in 18th century London. And this tomboyish girl wants to be a pirate and leave the corsets and dresses at home.
The only thing I love MORE than pirates is dressing up like a pirate.
But, seriously, the only thing I love more than good action-packed pirate adventure is an action-packed pirate adventure with FANTASY mixed in among the swords and refreshing sea air! It’s so hard to find these novels, but a few good ones exist, like, the Liveship Trader novels by Robin Hobb. Although I haven’t read the series all the way through (I hate admitting not finishing a series- its a book sacrilege), I love the idea that the ships are living beings. Plus, the family and personal dynamics definitely kept the pages turning.
Plus, I really enjoyed Misty Massey’s Mad Kestrel. Besides its super cool cover, this story did a great job of seamlessly combining a classic coming of age story with sea life and, of course, seriously awesome magic. If you hadn’t noticed a pattern- I like female heroine pirate stories a lot. Could I narrow this genre down any more??
These novels manage to stuff all the sword-fighting, brawling, exotic locales and romantic trysts into a tiny…ok, 300-500 page novel while still maintaining depth and purposeful plot. These books have three-dimensional characters (especially the Liveship series) full of realistic flaws and likable traits.
I can’t say ALL pirate stories are like this though. I recently bought To Catch A Pirate. It had all my required elements except magic, and I thought, “Hey, why not?” My question quickly turned into something more like, “Why didn’t I listen to the Amazon reviews?” This story was as vapid and shallow as the back cover made it out to be. Example/Case in point: “A year later, with a forged letter of marque, Annalisa is intent on hunting down the wretched James Sterling and reclaiming her father’s treasure from him. But now she’s in danger of him stealing something far more vulnerable this time: her heart.”
To Catch a Pirate had no depth, barely any fighting and a pirate who gets miraculously transformed from an evil fiend to dashing hero in about 10 pages. I like my pirates unreformed and dangerous with all their appeal left in tact, thank you very much.
**Any suggestions or recommendations for this crazy genre (that I have most likely invented)?
P.S. We love making our cat dress up like a pirate, too!