Did you know September 19 is Talk Like a Pirate Day? To help you learn some high-seas vocabulary, check out these five fantastic books about swashbucklers and scoundrels.
The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty
After a long career as one of the world’s most well-known and notorious pirates, Amina al-Sirafi is retired. She survived enough to know the value of motherhood, piety and a lack of the supernatural. But when the mother of a crewman tracks her down, a comfortable retirement isn’t enough to turn down a fortune. If she retrieves her old friend’s kidnapped daughter, she’ll be set for life. As she reunites her crew, Amina learns this is more than just a kidnapping. It will take run-ins with terrifying monsters, real magic and actual demons if she’s going to make it back to her family.
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi is a perfect start to an unputdownable high-stakes fantasy adventure. Combining Pirates of the Caribbean with Ocean’s Eleven, Shannon Chakraborty’s follow-up to the Daevabad Trilogy is a masterful work of pirate fiction.
Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea by Rita Chang-Eppig
When another sailor kills her pirate husband, Shek Yeung knows she must act quickly. To save herself, she marries his second-in-command and promises to give him an heir in exchange for half the fleet. As she fights for control, the Chinese Empire vows to rid the seas of pirates. As Shek Yeung navigates motherhood alongside her new role, she must decide exactly what she’s willing to risk.
The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark
Creeper, a determined teen living on the New Orleans streets, dreams of a more exciting life on the smuggle airship Midnight Robber. To secure her place, she leverages her knowledge of a kidnapped Haitian scientist and his enigmatic creation, The Black God’s Drums. But Creeper has a secret of her own: a connection with Oya, the African orisha of wind and storms, who grants her divine powers and has her own agenda.
Look, space pirates still count. Like everything else by P. Djèlí Clark, The Black God’s Drums is full of intense world-building and an addictive narrative that’s impossible to put down.
A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee
As the golden age of piracy wanes and the legendary Dragon Fleet becomes nothing more than a story, Xiang longs to prove herself. After discovering a hidden map, she teams up with the mysterious Anh to hunt down the Head of the Dragon’s final prize. Together, they set sail to pursue the treasure, only to discover that the dangers of the sea and its sailors are far more treacherous than the myths suggest.
A Clash of Steel is a retelling of the quintessential pirate story: Treasure Island. C.B. Lee balances the thrills of adventure with the tenderness of first love and found family while also touching on real historical piracy.
The Mermaid, The Witch, and The Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
On the pirate ship Dove, Flora masquerades as a boy named Florian to gain the crew’s respect and protection. Survival is all that matters in this brutal life, but when Flora forms an unexpected bond with Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, their connection sets a daring escape plan in motion. Together, they embark on an adventure involving a captured mermaid, a witch, and the sea itself, leading to unexpected alliances and a fight for freedom.
Full of larger-than-life characters and a sweet sapphic romance, The Mermaid, The Witch, and The Sea is a fantastic YA adventure. Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s 2020 novel is the romantic and breathless pirate story of your dreams.
Check out these five fabulous pirate stories, then let us know your favorite high-seas slang below. Thanks for reading, landlubbers!