Author: Celia Rees
Genre: YA historical fiction
Publisher: Listening Library
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Jennifer Wiltsie
Audiobook length: 8 hours and 59 minutes
First line: I was of a roving frame of mind, even as a child, and for years my fancy had been to set sail on one of my father’s ships.
This review was originally published on my personal blog on September 15, 2006.
Goodreads blurb: Nancy Kington, daughter of a rich merchant, suddenly orphaned when her father dies, is sent to live on her family’s plantation in Jamaica. Disgusted by the treatment of the slaves and her brother’s willingness to marry her off, she and one of the slaves, Minerva, run away and join a band of pirates. For both girls the pirate life is their only chance for freedom in a society where both are treated like property, rather than individuals. Together they go in search of adventure, love, and a new life that breaks all restrictions of gender, race, and position. Told through Nancy’s writings, their adventures will appeal to readers across the spectrum and around the world.
Pirates! tells the tale of Nancy Kington and Minerva Sharpe, a plantation owner’s daughter and a slave, thrown together by fate and gone “on the account” as pirates.
Rees deals honestly with the slave trade, as well as the limits and oppression piled on women of the early 1700s. Nancy is a sixteen-year-old girl who fears the fate her brothers have chosen for her. An instant decision to save her slave-girl from rape changes the course of her life forever. She runs away with two female slaves to the maroons, escaped slaves living in the wilderness of Jamaica.
Sought by the man her brothers want her to marry, Nancy joins a pirate ship, and her companion and former slave Minerva accompanies her. Minerva is especially suited to the life of a pirate, and Nancy quickly adapts her feminine, aristocratic sensitivities to life as a thief.
Nancy tells the story in first person, and as I listened I felt what she was feeling and saw what she was seeing. Rees is a talented author and I will be looking for more of her work.
The YA designation is deserved; Rees is brutal in her honesty of the horrors of slavery and murder, so use your own judgment in recommending this to any young girls.