Are you a fan of pirate adventure novels? Do you want to read about daring sea voyages, treasure hunts, and swashbuckling action? How about adding some sapphic characters to the mix?
Here are some must-read young adult pirate adventure novels that feature LGBTQ+ representation.
1. Escape To Pirate Island by Niamh Murphy (That’s Me!)
Escape to Pirate Island by Niamh Murphy is a thrilling adventure that takes place in 1720 England. The story follows Catherine Meadows and Lillian Exquemelin, who are forced to make a desperate escape and find themselves on a Trans-Atlantic adventure that pits them against pirates, mutineers, lost treasure, and betrayal.
The book promises a swashbuckling romance, and it definitely delivers! I had fun creating a page-turning adventure with cliffhangers (literally), betrayals, reveals, and turns of fortune to keep you hooked to the very end!
Readers love Cat and Lily and say their chemistry is palpable, but this is much more than a romance and includes a hunt for lost treasure, secret identities and a battle upon the high seas. Overall, Escape to Pirate Island is an excellent read for anyone who loves action-packed adventures with strong female leads.
Start reading the first chapter here
2. The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
If you’re looking for a thrilling, action-packed read with a unique twist, The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie is the book for you.
Set in a future where genetically engineered sea monsters are used as weapons, the story follows Cassandra Leung, a Reckoner trainer-in-training who finds herself caught between loyalty to her family and her growing feelings for a pirate girl named Swift.
Skrutskie’s writing is fast-paced and engaging, and the morally grey situations that Cassandra finds herself in will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Plus, the same-sex love interest adds an extra layer of complexity to the story. Overall, The Abyss Surrounds Us is a must-read for fans of science fiction and adventure.
3. These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch
Adeluna is a soldier who fought against the magic-wielding Argrid empire. Devereux is a pirate who wants to overthrow Argrid’s rule. When their paths cross, they team up to take down their common enemy. This book features a slow-burn sapphic romance between Adeluna and another female character.
Raasch’s world-building is impressive, with vivid descriptions of the magical system and the different factions vying for power. The characters are well-developed and complex, with their own motivations and secrets. Adeluna is a strong and determined protagonist who grows throughout the story, while her companions add humour and heart to the narrative.
Overall, These Rebel Waves is a must-read for fans of high fantasy and political intrigue. Raasch’s writing is engaging and immersive, transporting readers to a richly detailed world filled with danger and adventure.
4. The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara
The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara is a captivating novel based on the true story of a young woman who disguised herself as a boy to join the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack.
The book follows Mary’s journey as she navigates life as a pirate, facing impossible odds and surviving against all expectations, all while exploring her own gender. At its core, the novel is also a romance between Mary and another female pirate named Anne Bonny, adding an extra layer of depth to the story.
McNamara’s writing is engaging and draws readers into Mary’s world, making it easy to get lost in this historical adventure. Overall, The Unbinding of Mary Reade is a must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction or tales of strong women defying societal norms.
5. Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
Seafire by Natalie C. Parker is an intense and captivating story about survival and vengeance, featuring an all-female crew of pirates on a mission to take down a ruthless warlord who killed the protagonist’s parents and kidnapped her brother.
The novel is action-packed and exhilarating, with non-stop adventure that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Parker’s writing is powerful and evocative, bringing the world of Seafire to life in vivid detail.
The lesbian relationship is between two of the minor characters, one of whom is deaf. Plus, there are plenty of other kick-ass characters throughout the story.
Overall, Seafire is a must-read for fans of strong female characters, epic sea battles, and thrilling adventure stories.
6. The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
If you’re looking for a captivating young adult fantasy novel, look no further than The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall. Set in a world divided by colonialism and magic, this book follows the story of a desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial lady who find an unexpected connection on the high seas.
What makes this book stand out is its exploration of the cost of violence from every angle. Tokuda-Hall doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, but rather confronts them head-on with beautiful prose and compelling characters. The result is a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant read that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.
Overall, I highly recommend The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea to anyone looking for an engaging and impactful YA fantasy novel.
When it comes to young adult pirate books with sapphic characters, there’s no shortage of amazing reads. Whether you’re looking for a historical adventure or an epic fantasy quest, these novels have something special to offer readers from all walks of life.
From Adeluna and Devereux’s slow-burn romance in These Rebel Waves to Mary Reade’s daring escapades in The Unbinding of Mary Reade and Caledonia Styx’s mission for revenge in Seafire, each story will transport you into another world full of thrilling adventures and captivating characters.
And if that wasn’t enough, Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea offers an emotionally resonant read about colonialism and violence that is sure to leave a lasting impression on its audience. No matter which book you choose first, I’m confident your journey through the high seas won’t disappoint!
Want more pirates? Check out 16 Great Reads for Lesbians and Queer Girls who Love Pirates!