Pirates! by Celia Rees
Celia Rees is a new author for me. Not surprising since a book about pirates is so out of my range of interest. But, the tag was England and being the YA fan I am, I looked for something I could get through. I can't remember how I actually came upon the title, but once it matched up with enough tags for LIO, I looked past the number of pages (almost 400 which is a huge commitment for something I normally wouldn't read) I told myself to lighten up and go with it. I'm still not crazy about pirates but this works for me. For starters and most importantly for me, Rees provides strong female leads. Huge on my criteria. Nancy is a wealthy merchant's daughter (no draw here; stories involving class aren't endearing to me) and Minerva is her slave (you can imagine I'm not too thrilled to find out where this is going) at her inherited Jamaican plantation. Nancy is in love with a boy below her station (Yawn. No surprise here. Still I keep going.) Boy takes off to make his fortune and station so he can come back and profess his love for a girl he knows he can't have until he can take care of her(I'm annoyed, but I keep going.)
Yes, I'm being a smartbutt and that is my point. I normally don't want to spend hours reading this kind of story. But, Rees can write, and Nancy is good mix of independent thinking, loving who she pleases and defines herself. So I kept going. Minerva is sketched well, too. Rees does well to fill out this character. She, too, is independent, a helluva sailor and fighter, and she even finds time to fall in love and choose for herself to give up the seas for a place among people where she finally feels she fits.
Pirates! is a good mix of fantasy, adventure, history and realism. Over time, I got past my prejudices and found myself plowing on to see how the duo escapes an arranged marriage, capture, killed by rivals and hanging (It's against the law to be a pirate, you know). The novel takes me to places and experiences I don't know well and that's another notch on the interest scale. So if you're into pirates, adventure and fantasy, this is an easy sale. If you're like me, a raving feminist who is opinionated and firmly grounded in realistic fiction, you might find this gives you plenty of what you like in a place you assumed unlikely.
I don't mind being wrong especially if it turns out to be a good time.