Ahoy, me Hearties – I had originally thought I would do a dog themed blog this month since National Dog Day is coming up, but when I noticed the release of a new (unexpected) book by a favourite (Canadian!) author – well … just “shiver me timbers”. I was all in – pirates it is for this month’s blog. As one who only occasionally wanders into the fantasy/pirate realm, I’m admittedly pretty particular. It’s not just the rogue, bloodthirsty captain that piques my interest but the “new generation” of modern pirate out to do good and seize their opportunities. If you are into pirates I found a rather humourous and enlightening site called piratesvszombies.org that goes into some detail about the new and improved modern pirate. Nice to know that all the pirates in these novels qualify as new and improved, regardless of whether they are set in the past, present or future.
Just a note that although each of these books includes an essential romantic component, the main focus is on the adventure/suspense storyline. So, “batten down the hatches” here are a few of my favourites.
Benny Lawrence is the winner of two Goldie Awards for Science Fiction/Fantasy category. I attended my first GCLS Annual Conference in 2014. It’s all a bit of a blur now of course but Benny Lawrence’s Shell Game (2013) was one of the winners. Thought nothing of it but then the next year her Rabbits of the Apocalypse (2014) was one of the winners at the next year’s New Orleans GCLS Conference. She now had my attention and be still my heart – a backlist. I started with Shell Game and absolutely loved it. Nothing is as it seems, the characters are multi-layered, the humour is dark and hilarious, and we have adventure in abundance on the high seas.
The recently released Beggars Flip (2019) is the sequel and follows the main and supporting characters as the war ravages on. I could not say this any better so from the novel’s blurb we have “Darren socially awkward, exiled noblewoman turned pirate queen and Lynn sorta kinda Darren’s slave girl, kinda Darren’s life coach, and altogether the bossiest backseat helmsman that ever set foot on a pirate ship are at it … again.” This sequel was as intense as the first book. We learn more about the main and supporting characters backstories and there is no shortage of social commentary. If original, intelligent well-written books that reflect the good, bad and ugly of the human condition served up with irrelevant and sarcastic humour are your thing, I highly recommend all of this author’s novels.
Compass Rose (2018) is Anna Burke’s 2019 Goldie winner in the debut author category. There was a lot of buzz about this novel at last year’s conference so thought I’d check it out. It (as well as her second novel) more than live up to the hype and both are also on my highly recommended list. This is a futuristic pirate tale set in 2513. Compass Rose from whose perspective much of the novel is told is a navigation officer on a ship in the Archipelago Fleet (kinda reminiscent of a Star Trek fleet on the high seas). Compass Rose is a human compass, the best the fleet has to offer and agrees to a dangerous clandestine mission to work with the pirate Miranda who has a dark past of her own. The mercenary ship Man o’ War is nothing Rose has ever experienced before and treachery, adventure and piracy are the order of the day. Absolutely loved this book.
I didn’t know what to expect from Niamh Murphy’s Escape to Pirate Island: A Lesbian Adventure Romance (2017) but here is yet another book that I am so pleased that I didn’t pass on. It’s in the style of a more traditional pirate tale than the other books featured here. Set in 1720, the book starts with the smuggler Cat (Catherine) jumping into the ocean to escape the Revenue Men and with a few of her remaining gang ending up as lowly crew on a ship engaged by Lily to locate the treasure hidden by her now deceased privateer father. A trans-Atlantic adventure with likeable and unlikeable characters, pirates and a mutiny here and there is sure to keep you entertained.
After such fun reading/rereading these novels, I wondered why my pirate section was so sparse so there are a few others now downloaded and in my TBR next list. They include Catherine Friend’s A Pirate’s Heart ( 2008), Karen Badger’s Over the Crescent Moon (2019) and Kate Sweeney’s The O’Malley Legacy (2008).
If you want to weigh in on any of the above, or have some favourites not listed here, please feel free to share with us all in the comments area.