Review: Steel by Carrie Vaughn

Pages: 304
Publisher: Harper Teen
Age Level: Young Adult
Source: Library

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.


About a month ago I got a sudden craving for books about pirates, so when I came across Steel, which had the added element of time travel to it, I picked it up to read.ย  And I am definitely glad that I did.

Jill was a strong female character who I immediately connected with. Jill does competitive Fencing and I do competitive Taekwondo so I understood how she felt about fighting – both winning and losing. Jill is also very impulsive, and throughout the story she was constantly doing crazy things without thinking. At times though, her impulsiveness bordered on flat-out recklessness and some of the things she did were a little far-fetched.

The pirates were, for the most part, realistic, though there were some things that clearly would never have happened. The author did a great job describing the time period and its really easy to lose yourself in the pirate’s world. The third person writing really makes you feel as if you are an observer, watching the story unfold.

The time travel was not explained at all, and this was the weakest part of the novel. I did enjoy the magical element to it though, as it added a darker layer to the plot.

On the other hand, I absolutely loved Henry. He is funny, kind, smart and handsome, not to mention the fact that he is a pirate. The relationship between him and Jill was gradual and cute but I wish there’d have been more to it.

Oh and let’s not forget to mention the chapter headings. Each title was a fencing term that actually related to the chapter’s content. I liked that the Fencing theme was carried through the novel and the titles were a way to connect the two plots – the modern day world and the pirate world.

The ending was rather unsatisfying. Jill makes a choice and moves on happily, when realistically she should have been constantly wondering what would have happened had she chosen differently.

In all, Steel was an great action packed tale with a cast of strong female characters and just touch of magic.


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