Get ready for a pirate adventure unlike any other, with fierce pirate queens, mystical swords and a surprisingly hefty dose of humanitarian feeling. Carrie Vaughn’s newest novel Steel treads new ground for the writer, whose Kitty Norville werewolf series for adults has gained her quite a reputation for daring tales. This time, however, Vaughn whisks her teen readers—as well as her unassuming heroine Jill—back to the wildest pirate days of the Caribbean.

A family trip to the Bahamas turns intriguing when Jill discovers a rusty rapier tip in the sand—which then mysteriously transports her back in time. A competitive fencer (albeit a second-rate one in her own eyes), Jill is used to handling a sword, but nothing can prepare her for the moment when she is hauled aboard the Diana to face Captain Cooper and her band of cackling pirates. Jill might be handy with a blade, but she has never had to fight for blood, and the deck of a pirate ship is no place to spare a life. However, the only way to get back home is to become a part of the crew. Jill must face the adventure of a lifetime, and it all comes down to whether or not she is pirate enough to survive.

Carrie Vaughn makes it clear that her pirates are neither historical nor cinematic, but they seem to be a hybrid of pirates as they really were, and pirates as a teenage girl might wish them to be. Does Jill actually time-travel to the deck of a pirate ship that is captained by a fierce woman who seeks revenge for a deep heartbreak? Does she really see pirates setting free the slaves from a trade ship? Or is it all a dream? Aye, Steel be a story not for t’ faint o’ heart!

 

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