The Blood Bell tolls, marking the death of the pirate king and the start of the Trials—a heart-stopping competition where the reward is the Bone Crown. Only one contender can claim the coveted island throne; each will gamble life and limb to win. Captain. Sister. Maiden. Csilla Abado yearns to prove her strength to the seasoned pirates who balk at her youth and to her elder sister who has always craved Csilla’s captainship. She will risk everything to become the first pirate queen, no matter the cost. Dealer. Son. Legacy. Kane Blackwater wants to leave behind the dirty gold and shady trades he’s made to keep his father’s ship, the Iron Jewel, alive. The Trials represent a new beginning—yet rumors of a secret heir are swirling, threatening his hopes of becoming the pirate king. Stowaway. Daughter. Storm. Lorelei Penny longs for nothing more than to avenge her mother’s death. Stowing away on the Iron Jewel was supposed to get her closer to the killer, but instead she finds herself caught up in the deadly battle where loyalty and desire collide. Csilla. Kane. Lorelei. Each on a mission. The sea, however, has other plans. Dark tides are rising, and if they aren’t careful, they’ll surely drown.
When I found out that this would be a book about pirates, pirates that are competing for the Bone Crown after the King Of Bones dies. Like, what a fantastic, incredible premise! It sounded like it would be right up my alley and I was incredibly eager to read it. Trigger warnings: grief, torture, blood
This was a weird book for me, emotions wise. I wanted to like it. I really, really wanted to like it. And I even did like it! I found it incredibly enjoyable. But I also didn’t like it at the same time. It’s a weird contrast.
First off, this book is as cool as it sounds. Swashbuckling pirates competing for the crown. This book leans into the aesthetic fully, ships and morally gray choices and swords held under chins. It’s gritty and has a dark edge to it. I really, really enjoyed this aspect of the book, and it is a big reason that I found it so enjoyable.
The characters were another highlight; this book is very, very character driven. Though, at the same time, I feel like they were very close to be cutouts of certain tropes and personality types, rather than true, real people. On the other hand, I also felt like they were so close to be such true, real people. Nevertheless, these tropes and personality types were ones that I completely loved, so I ended up really liking the characters. There’s the tortured soul of a boy who is trying to be better, a sarcastic and slightly goofy guy who looks at a girl with puppy dog eyes because he’s in love with her, a girl who doesn’t know how big her fate is, a girl who claws her way towards her fate, the boy who is just a dork, and the badass friend. It makes for a fantastic group, and for fantastic relationships to form! Yearning and mutual pining and this was another big reason that I found the book so enjoyable.
I hate saying this, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of the writing. I felt like there were certain places that just felt borderline cringey, and I think this bled over into the worldbuilding. I dunno, I think this is truly a personal thing, but the overarching plot just didn’t fully work for me! I felt like the magic system could have been fleshed out more, that there were a lot of storylines trying to take place at the same time so certain world and plot aspects didn’t get as developed as others, and there were times like I felt like things moved too fast and others where they moved too slow.
It was a weird reading experiencing, liking a book so much in some areas, and disliking it in others! I definitely would not say I hated this book, I would even say that I really liked it! But it did have it’s frustrating parts for me. However, I think other people will fall completely in love with it.