The best YA fantasy books with pirates

Who am I?

I’m a young adult fantasy author who’s been in love with pirates since before Pirates of the Caribbean came out…and who then wrote a novel inspired by it. I grew up watching every pirate movie I could and have always wanted to hunt for treasure. I feel my most calm when I’m by the ocean, and I’m a bit of a wanderer myself—having traveled to over 60 countries and to every continent (yes, including Antarctica!). I have a master’s degree in Creative Writing and love sharing my adventures with the world. 


I wrote...

A Touch of Gold

By Annie Sullivan,

Book cover of A Touch of Gold

What is my book about?

After King Midas’s gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, he relinquished The Touch. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her, and she harbors powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days concealed behind gloves and veils until a charming duke arrives. However, their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals the treasures her father needs to survive. Thanks to Kora’s ability to sense gold, she sets sail after it. But she’ll have to go up against pirates, betrayers, and sirens—not to mention treasure seekers who think the golden girl might be worth her weight in gold—or risk losing her father and kingdom forever.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Assassin's Curse

Annie Sullivan Why did I love this book?

I love a good enemies-to-lovers trope, and this one has it! Pirate Ananna nearly escapes a forced marriage into another pirate clan, but her freedom comes at a cost—an assassin sent to kill her. Hold on to your hats because this book has adventure, romance, curses, and more! You’ll fall in love with the world and the characters as they leap off the pages! 

By Cassandra Rose Clarke,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Assassin's Curse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her. 

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their…


Book cover of Daughter of the Pirate King

Annie Sullivan Why did I love this book?

Alosa is the type of pirate I would want to be. She’s got swagger, sword skills, daring, and wit. She deliberately lets herself get captured by her enemies (but will they stay enemies???) in order to search their ship for an ancient map leading to a legendary treasure. However, on her quest to not everything is as it seems—even Alosa herself. I love the twists and turns you take as you explore this robust pirate world!   

By Tricia Levenseller,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Daughter of the Pirate King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

If you want something done right...When her father, the ruthless Pirate King, discovers that a legendary treasure map can be found on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows that there's only one pirate for the job - herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her welcome on the ship. After all, who's going to suspect a girl locked in a cell...But Alosa has skills enough for any three pirates, and has yet to meet her match. Although she has to admit that the surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive first mate,…


Book cover of Steel

Annie Sullivan Why did I love this book?

What’s a pirate story without a little stolen treasure? Well, modern-day Jill doesn’t exactly steal the broken sword piece she finds on the beach, but it certainly is a treasure—one that transports her back in time to the age of pirates. Who hasn’t wanted to be transported to a pirate ship? I know have…and I still do! 

By Carrie Vaughn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Steel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A mysterious broken sword transports a modern teen through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past, and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate's life is bloody and brief, and as she learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain!


Book cover of Starflight

Annie Sullivan Why did I love this book?

Pirates…in space! Maybe you weren’t expecting space pirates on this list, but they’re just as cool as sea pirates. With a mix of Star Wars and the movie Overboard vibes, this story follows a down-on-her-luck Solara as she bargains for passage to another world and another life. However, some risks are bigger than others. So are some cons. And Solara might just have to team up with the last person she wants to in order to survive. I love the “found family” trope in this one and how you learn there’s more to people than you ever thought.  

By Melissa Landers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Starflight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Fast-paced adventure, found family, intrigue, and enemies-to-lovers romance combine in an action-packed young adult novel for fans of Firefly.

Solara Brooks needs a fresh start, someplace where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. Still, off-world travel doesn't come cheap, and Solara is left with no choice but to indenture herself in exchange for passage to the outer realm. She just wishes it could have been to anyone besides Doran Spaulding, the rich, pretty-boy quarterback who made her life miserable in school. The tables suddenly turn when Doran is framed for…


Book cover of Hook's Revenge

Annie Sullivan Why did I love this book?

Okay, I cheated with this one. It’s a Middle-Grade book and not a Young Adult book. But it’s a list about pirates! You should’ve expected a little bit of cheating going on. And I had to include this one because of the voice. It’s told by a narrator who’s as off-putting as he is entertaining. And if that’s not enough, it follows Captain Hook’s daughter on her quest for revenge against Peter Pan. You’ll be hooked right away…get it? Get it??? Hahaha! I’ll be over here laughing at my own jokes (and you should go add these books to your to-be-read piles!)

By Heidi Schulz, John Hendrix (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hook's Revenge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Twelve-year-old Jocelyn dreams of becoming every bit as daring as her infamous father, Captain James Hook. Her grandfather, on the other hand, intends to see her starched and pressed into a fine society lady. When she’s sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies, Jocelyn’s hopes of following in her father’s fearsome footsteps are lost in a heap of dance lessons, white gloves, and way too much pink.

So when Jocelyn receives a letter from her father challenging her to avenge his untimely demise at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile, she doesn’t hesitate―here at last is the…


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The Blighted Mission

By E. Chris Ambrose,

Book cover of The Blighted Mission

E. Chris Ambrose Author Of The Mongol's Coffin

New book alert!

Who am I?

As an art school drop-out who'd been majoring in sculpture, I'm fascinated by material culture—artifacts created by early peoples that reveal their cultural values. Often, the relics and sites that engage both archaeologists and readers suggest unexpected depths of knowledge that show human ingenuity through the ages. I strive to incorporate the details of an artifact or monument's creation into the clues and descriptions in my work, hopefully illuminating a little-known historical realm, if only by torchlight as the adventure unfolds. The fact that I get to explore so many exotic locations, in research if not in person, is a definite plus!

E. Chris' book list on weaving adventure and history

What is my book about?

Disgraced British anthropologist Nigel Rowe hopes his YouTube adventure channel will be just the treat to redeem him, but vengeful treasure hunters have other plans! Seeking a legendary Jesuit mission in Baja, Nigel saves his producer’s life when the man takes a bullet meant for him. 

When an ex-Marine strolls up for a bodyguard interview, and dresses him down for his lax security, she might be precisely what he needs, or the last face he'll ever see. They plunge into the desert in search of fame, fortune and viral footage. Will he survive long enough to work out who's after him or meet a sticky end in the mountains of Mexico? All he can hope is that his new partner's doesn’t pull the trigger herself.

The Blighted Mission

By E. Chris Ambrose,

What is this book about?

A disgraced British anthropologist hopes his YouTube adventure channel will redeem him, but vengeful treasure hunters have other plans.

From the author of the internationally best-selling Bone Guard archaeological adventures!

On the trail of a legendary Jesuit mission in Baja—and the treasure it may contain—Nigel Rowe leaps into action to save the life of his producer when the man takes a bullet meant for Nigel. Alas, the list of those who might wish him dead spans the globe and ranges from American treasure hunters to Russian mobsters to his own dear brother, with their mother's consent if not her explicit…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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