I have heard the name of Carrie Vaughn around the book world before, but have never read any of her works until I was caught by the cover of this one. Steel is a swashbuckling adventure that drags its readers straight into the historic pages of piracy and open seas. It also dragged the main character into the fray as well – literally.
Jill is a sixteen-year-old fencer at her highschool. Though she has competed at countless tournaments and is practised at the art, she has never before used a sharpened blade in combat. Whilst on holidays in the Caribbean with her family, she comes across the broken blade of an ancient rapier, and keeps it for herself.
It isn’t long before Jill realizes there is more to the sword piece that meets the eye. After falling into the ocean, she is mysteriously transported through time to the deck of a pirate ship full of very real pirates. Jill finds that the pirates have no idea where she came from, and worse – no idea how to get her back. The only clue to her sudden appearance in the early eighteenth century lies in the broken sword tip: whose secrets seem strangely tied to Jill’s pirate captain rescuer.
Reading this book made me feel as though I was right on deck with Jill. It is written with such a vividness and authenticity that you can almost taste the salt in the air. The story took twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, and the growth of Jill’s character was a pleasure to watch. There were also some very touching scenes that made me teary – some only consisting of a few words. I was curious as to how the tale would end, as I thought it might be tricky to wind up. Yet the author brought it to a most satisfying finale which wrapped the story up perfectly. It was a most enjoyable read.
There are however, a few issues. Being a pirate story, there is some moderate coarse language scattered throughout. There was no R rated or obscene swearing, however it was strong enough to make a mention of. Immorality ran high here during this period of history, but for a few brief, discreet allusions, the author did not go into any depth.
Dark magic and blood sacrifice comes into play as a key plotpoint of the story, but it is marked strongly as wicked and wrong. Though it is a major element to the resolution, it was mostly out of the spotlight when it comes to description and detail.
One minor point that may be worth noting is that the pirate captain is a woman. This didn’t bother me, and it does add to the story’s plot, however I thought I would make a mention of it.
Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable read and would give it a rating of four stars out of five.
Published on 19 December, 2011. Last updated on