Ahoy! Read These 15 Books About Pirates For a Wild Ride
Pop culture has always had a fascination with pirates, both real and fictional. There's just something intriguing about the blend of high-seas adventure, quests for treasure, and living as roguish outlaws. It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that there are tons of books about pirates, perfect for satisfying your thirst for adventure without ever leaving the comfort of home.
There's much more to swashbuckling fiction than the classics like Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" or William Goldman's "The Princess Bride." We've got epic fantasies including "The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi" by Shannon Chakraborty and "Daughter of the Pirate King" by Tricia Levenseller alongside more historical, less fantastical tales like Katherine Howe's "A True Account," plus pirate lore mixed with romance like "The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels" by India Holton and "Destiny's Captive" by Beverly Jenkins. If you can imagine a crew of outlaw misfits in search of treasure and adventure, you can put a pirate twist on anything! Here are just a few of our favorite books about pirates. And for even more great books, check out the 2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.
"The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi" by Shannon Chakraborty
The title character of "The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi" ($17) by Shannon Chakraborty has had a heck of a career as one of the most notorious and successful pirates in the Indian Ocean. Now she's ready to settle down and retire to a quiet life, away from the sword fights and the supernatural, but fate has other plans. A former crewmate's wealthy mother approaches her with one last mission: to rescue her old friend's kidnapped daughter. How can she refuse?
"Fable" by Adrienne Young
Adrienne Young's "Fable" ($12) tells the story of Fable, the teenage daughter of an infamous and powerful sea trader. After seeing her mother drown and being abandoned on a dangerous island by her father, she's taught herself what she needs to survive. Now, she's determined to track down her father and take her place by his side, and she's enlisted the help of a mysterious young trader to help deliver her and take over her destiny.
"Destiny's Captive" by Beverly Jenkins
For a historical romance with a pirate twist, pick up "Destiny's Captive" ($9) by Beverly Jenkins. Noah sails the seas in search of adventure, only to find himself tied up and his ship stolen by Pilar, the descendant of pirates. Now, Noah is on a mission to track down Pilar, get his ship back, and find out more about this woman he can't stop thinking about.
"All the Stars and Teeth" by Adalyn Grace
"All the Stars and Teeth" ($9) by Adalyn Grace isn't just a story of pirates — we've also got mermaids, magic, and all sorts of supernatural drama. In order to secure her throne, Princess Amora must prove her mastery of the dangerous soul magic of her island kingdom. When things go wrong, she's forced to flee, and then she strikes a deal with pirate Bastian: he'll offer his help to claim her throne in exchange for her help reclaiming his lost magic.
"The Wicked Bargain" by Gabe Cole Novoa
A literal deal with the devil is at the heart of "The Wicked Bargain" ($16) by Gabe Cole Novoa. Mar, a transmasculine nonbinary teen pirate, hides their magical abilities, but even that magic isn't enough when El Diablo comes to collect on a deal Mar's father made for the souls of the whole crew. After Mar is rescued by another pirate crew, they're faced with a choice: use their magic to fight back with the help of new allies, or never see their father again.
"A True Account: Hannah Masury's Sojourn Amongst the Pyrates, Written by Herself" by Katherine Howe
Katherine Howe's "A True Account: Hannah Masury's Sojourn Amongst the Pyrates, Written by Herself" ($26) doesn't shy away from the ugly parts of piracy. In the waning days of the Golden Age of Piracy, Hannah flees her seaside town and disguises herself as a cabin boy to join the pirate crew of the notorious Ned Low. Centuries later, Marian, a professor, uncovers Hannah's story and sets out to solve a mystery that the pirate woman left behind.
"Dark Water Daughter" by H.M. Long
If you, like me, think James Norrington deserved better in Pirates of the Caribbean, then you'll love "Dark Water Daughter" ($15) by H.M. Long. Stormsinger Mary needs a way out of her servitude to the dangerous pirate lord Lirr, so she offers her services instead to his rival. Samuel is a disgraced former naval captain who has turned into a privateer in hopes of bringing Lirr to justice and regaining his position. Their alliance is shaky at best, but they'll have to work together if they have any hopes of standing up against vengeful pirates and powerful supernatural forces.
"Cinnamon and Gunpowder" by Eli Brown
"Cinnamon and Gunpowder" ($15) by Eli Brown is a little quirkier than other pirate novels. Owen, a famous chef, is kidnapped by the pirate Mad Hannah Mabbot. She makes him a deal: she'll spare his life, as long as he makes her an impressive meal every week without fail. As Hannah struggles with her own fears, including a potential saboteur among her men, she'll come to lean on Owen, even as he slowly comes to adapt to the wild ways of life among their misfit crew.
"Ship of Magic" by Robin Hobb
In the world of "Ship of Magic" ($10) by Robin Hobb, the rarest ships of all are made from wizardwood: magical, sentient wood. The newly awakened ship Vivacia is helmed by Althea Vestrit, who sees it as her family's legacy, while her nephew resents being taken away from his studies to serve on board. The bigger threat, however, comes from the ruthless pirate Kennit, who has a plan to rule over the Pirate Isles by seizing a liveship . . . one just like the Vivacia.
"The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels" by India Holton
Who says pirates can only exist at sea? In "The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels" ($11), India Holton introduces us to a world of flying houses, Victorian lady thieves, and power-mad pirates steering mansions around the skies. Cecilia yearns to be a full-fledged member of the thieving Wisteria Society, but things get complicated when Ned, an assassin for hire, shows up under contract to murder her. When the Wisteria Society is threatened by Morvath, a villain with a vendetta, Cecilia and Ned must team up to take down evildoers so everyone can get back to socially acceptable schemes and robberies.
"Daughter of the Pirate King" by Tricia Levenseller
"Daughter of the Pirate King" ($8) kicks off Tricia Levenseller's series of books about fierce young women who rule the seas. Alosa, a 17-year-old pirate captain, is on a quest to retrieve a legendary treasure map, and she has a plan — which happens to involve allowing herself to be captured by an enemy ship. No one on the ship has any clue that they're part of her scheme. Although the first mate, Riden, seems to suspect Alosa's motives, she's more than a match for any pirate who crosses her.
"A Clash of Steel" by C.B. Lee
Billed as a remix of "Treasure Island," "A Clash of Steel" ($7) by C.B. Lee transplants the classic pirate tale onto 19th-century Chinese pirate lore. Xiang has grown up with stories of the legendary Head of the Dragon, a fearless woman who led an infamous pirate fleet, and she's even more intrigued when she finds out her missing father once sailed with the Dragon Fleet. Along with a pirate girl, Anh, and her mismatched crew, Xiang sets out to follow the clues her father left her in hopes of tracking down a famous lost treasure.
"The Call of the Sea" by Kate Schumacher
"The Call of the Sea" ($25) by Kate Schumacher loosely retells the Arthurian legends with a magical, seafaring twist. Arthur never wanted to be a leader, but he has no choice as his father's heir, even when secrets from his past come to light. Jenyfer finds herself married to a man she doesn't love, but that's not her biggest secret: she can wield magic, and she's been getting help from Ordes, a charming pirate. When Jenyfer's magic is revealed, she, Arthur, and Ordes will be sent headlong into an ancient story, forced to make decisions that could reverberate far beyond them.
"On Stranger Tides" by Tim Powers
No, "On Stranger Tides" ($9) by Tim Powers is not an adaptation of the worst Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but the movie definitely took some inspiration from this book. Puppeteer John Chandagnac is sailing to reclaim his birthright from a wicked uncle when his ship is captured by pirates, and he finds himself renamed John Shandy and joining the pirate crew. Now, with magic all around and a beautiful woman in danger, he'll sail after the legendary, haunted Blackbeard on a quest toward the fabled Fountain of Youth.
"Well Met" by Jen DeLuca
If you're more into cheesy pirate vibes than actual seafaring brigands (or you just had a crush on Captain Hook from "Once Upon a Time"), the Renaissance faire rom-com "Well Met" ($11) by Jen DeLuca is what you've been looking for. Roped into volunteering at a small-town Ren faire, Emily immediately clashes with the organizer, uptight teacher Simon. Things take an interesting turn, however, when she "meets" his faire alter ego, a scruffy and sexy pirate captain. They can't stop flirting in character, but can it translate when the faire is over?