Crossbones / Kimberly Vale / Book Review



Csilla is the youngest pirate captain in Cerulia, the fierce leader of the Scarlet Maidens. Kane is a bad luck charm, and neither his crew nor his own successes can convince him otherwise. Lorelei is just a girl trapped on land, longing for the sea. But when the Pirate King dies, everything changes for all three. Every notorious pirate captain is called to Cerulia, for the King of Bones died without an heir. This is Csilla's chance to prove herself, though she is young, worthy enough to be queen. This is Kane's chance to prove himself lucky enough to be king. And this is Lorelei's chance to finally get in on the action--not that she has much choice. She's not a pirate captain, after all. She shouldn't be there at all. But when a vicious pirate comes calling at her seaside abode, Lorelei watches from a hiding spot as he slays her mother, and when her mother's blood hits the ground, voices rise up, voices telling her of a destiny unlike anything that she's dreamed before. And with nothing left to tie her to the land and revenge on the agenda, Lorelei sneaks into a ship headed for the kingdom of Cerulia: Kane's ship. A stowaway isn't the best start for this unlucky pirate's rise to the throne.

I've had mixed feelings about pirates in YA books. The first book I featured here at Gateway Reviews was a pirate book, after all, and I rather enjoyed it. More recently, however, I've had some real misses with the pirates. I came into this book hoping that it would give me hope for pirates in YA. Alas, I have been forced to conclude NO MORE PIRATES, PLEASE. PLEASE.


  • Hardened Pirates: It's been something of a trend lately to have pirates who aren't, really, pirates. I've even complained about this recently on a different book review, labeling them "sensitive pirates." Oh, they look like pirates. They vaguely do the things that pirates do, but they're not, actually, pirates. They don't pillage and plunder, murder and rape. Here, however, the pirates are, you know, pirates. They kill. They fight. They face the gallows. They don't hold back. Sure, they're not perfectly pirate-y, but they are akin to what pirates actually are, at least at the start. 
  • High Seas Adventure: If you like pirating adventures, you'll probably like this book--or at least like some aspects of it. It really does harken to other pirate tales. There are sailing ships crashing through the waves, violent sea battles, powerful goddesses and conniving thievery, port towns and gallows, even molten lava men. Everything that you could want in your pirate adventure makes it to these pages. It really is a high seas tale. 
  • High Stakes Competition: In addition to being a good high seas adventure, this book also features a high-stakes competition. Though it does take some time to truly dive into this competition, the competition itself does a good job of motivating characters and moving the plot along. The pirate captains must compete for the ultimate honor: the Bone Crown. There are rules and regulations as well as great feats of "piracy."


  • Generic Fantasy Names: It hurts me, sometimes, the way some authors name their characters and kingdoms. The pirate kingdom is Cerulia--you know, like the color of the sea. The worshipers of the earthen gods are the Terrans--like the terre itself. Blackwater is the surname of an infamous pirate captain, dark of soul even above the waves--unfortunately. Every name encountered in this book is a major "ugh" moment. If one goes to the trouble of creating a unique fantasy world, it should at least be made unique. I mean, the mortal enemies of the sea-faring nation is Incendia and the fire-worshipping Incendians, for goodness sake!
  • A Conspiracy of Pirates: I know I said they're hardened pirates. I know I complimented that, and I stand by it--at least in the beginning. But as the book goes on, things begin to fall apart. I mean, they're all working together. The pirates are working together. During the pirating competition, they're not allowed to even kill each other. Pirates aren't allowed to kill. And sure, they've all got rivalries, but those rivalries are just in word, not in action. They're not actually lawless, ruthless pirates. They're more like roughshod nobility of the sea, complete with some weird pirate loyalty. 
  • Poor Pacing: Things are always happening. That's not to say that this book is fast-paced. It isn't. I'm just saying that things don't stop happening. Every chapter will have some sort of action scene immediately. There's no room for setting-up. There's no room for character development. There's no room for plot advancement. It's all consumed by action. Random stuff just happens instead of letting anything slow down. I feel like a developmental editor or two should have been brought on to really find the plot in this one. It just gets buried under all the stuff that's happening. 



Those on the lookout for more high-seas pirates after Adalyn Grace's All the Stars and Teeth should check out this new adventure. Those who enjoy pirate tales akin to Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean should dive into this new world of lore and adventuring. 


Publisher: Wattpad Books
Date: October 5, 2021
Series: N/A

Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss+ and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Sky's End / Marc J. Gregson / Book Review

Most Ardently: A Pride & Prejudice Remix / Gabe Cole Novoa / Book Review

Best and Worst of 2023