3.5 stars actually.

If only I were twenty-five years younger (but not shocked by casual murder, torture, and implication of rape and violence) I think I could have overlooked some of the uneven bits of this book and fallen in love with Alosa and her enemy-to-lover pirate rival more.

But I’m not. So while Alosa intrigued me up until I learned her secret (waaaaay before the reveal, actually, and then I was like…why did pirate rival not guess? Why did clever Alosa not guess that pirate rival would guess?) and about the amazing abuse she’s suffered at the hands of her pirate king father and then when those two things didn’t seem to impact the first half of the book (or emotionally impact Alosa who is otherwise clever) I kind of stopped investing in her.

Alosa is in search of a map to a treasure guarded by mysterious and legendary sirens in a world of ocean, islands, and pirates. She’s amazing. Like seriously amazing both with physical feats of strength but also with her cleverness (loved the heisty clever bits like where she keeps her tools and the whole key switcheroo thing). She can also handle torture with little to no complaint (like being hung from the sails for a whole day.

Basically throughout the whole book is she sneaking around her enemy’s ship looking for the map, verbally jousting with the rival pirates, or strangely engaging the pirate guards in normal philosophical conversation although its well established she’s a pirate captive..not sure about those parts.

There’s also a part near the end, where, Alosa is “tested” for special powers in a way that seems just gratuitous and frankly LitRPG in its meticulous outlineing of her exact magic. What is revealed there I’d already mostly guessed anyway, so it didn’t do anything for me.

However, if you aren’t as interested in romance as I am, or don’t mind juicy angsty broken pasts not making a swashbuckling pirate complicated, or just really like heists, this is a great book. The cover makes it seem YA but wow there’s a lot of casual murder and torture and some uncomfortable parts where Alosa “becomes” each pirate’s dream girl involving yucky stereotypes that i wouldn’t necessarily suggest this is entirely appropriate for younger YA. Fun, but since I didn’t fall in love with Alosa I’ll probably not continue with the series.