Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: Steel

Carrie Vaughn
2011; HarperTeen; ISBN 978-0-06-154791-1 (hardcover)

Summary:  A tumble into tropical waters sends Jill on an unexpected voyage of discovery.  A talented fencer, Jill feels like a failure after losing an important tournament.  During her family's vacation in the Bahamas, Jill sulks and stays by herself.  Wandering on the beach, though, she finds the broken-off rusty tip of a rapier.  There's a tingle of power from the artifact--but Jill doesn't expect the rapier tip to send her into the past.  Rescued from the sea by a pirate queen, Jill finds that her fate is bound up with the sword that the tip came from.  Drawn into a war between two pirate captains, she will do whatever she can to find a way home.

This action-packed tale is full of intriguing details.  A pirate's life was full of backbreaking work and unhappy endings, as Jill experiences first-hand.  In a world where sword-fighting means surviving, not winning medals, Jill rediscovers her love of fencing--as well as learning that she's not capable of killing her opponents.  This fact, more than anything else, proves that Jill doesn't fit in among the pirates and should return to her own time.  Characters like Captain Marjory Cooper, the pirate queen, and Abe, the African quartermaster, provide a twist on the typical pirate seen in other books.  Anyone waiting for the next installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise will discover what being a pirate was really like by reading Steel.

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