Review: Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: young adult fantasy/sci-fi
Format/Source: ARC, ALA annual conference
Status: book 1 of the Seafire trilogy

After her family is killed by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas. She captains her ship, the Mors Navis, with a crew of girls and women just like her, whose lives have been turned upside down by Aric and his men. The crew has one mission: stay alive, and take down Aric's armed and armored fleet.

But when Caledonia's best friend and second-in-command just barely survives an attack thanks to help from a Bullet looking to defect, Caledonia finds herself questioning whether or not to let him join their crew. Is this boy the key to taking down Aric Athair once and for all...or will he threaten everything the women of the Mors Navis have worked for?

Seafire is fantastic, you guys, and I am currently dying waiting for book 2. This is one of those books where I don't think the summary does it justice because the the overall goal is to take down Aric Athair and avenge Caledonia and all the other girls' families, but that's not actually what happens in THIS installment of the series. Seafire does a good job of introducing the world, allowing readers to familiarize themselves with the characters and their main goals: surviving and generally making a nuisance of themselves to Aric's navy by attacking supply ships. Until Oran, the rogue Bullet, comes along and throws a wrench into Caledonia's plans with some very surprising information.

I absolutely fell in love with the girls of the Mors Navis. There are 53 girls on board, but the story focuses on the main officers/specialized crew members, which is good because otherwise it would be overwhelming. What I really like about having a book that is 97% populated with female characters is that you get to see a wide variety of relationships among these girls. In most books or shows or movies, there are usually fewer female characters so you get fewer options at once, usually best friends or rivals and a very small amount of f/f romance. Even by focusing on ~10 characters, Natalie shows us so many different kinds of relationships. There's friendship that runs so deep that the characters may as well be sisters, there are actual sisters (well, those aren't in the 10), there's romantic love, there's mentorship, there's conflict, there's leader/follower, there's comfortable, easy friendship, and above all, there's respect and solidarity. Seafire is one of the first books I've EVER read that allows female characters the freedom to experience the full range of human relationships. I truly loved these characters, who all displayed distinct personalities with complex strengths and weaknesses, and I celebrated their triumphs and mourned their sorrows (there was much crying on my part). 

I've seen a few reviews mention that the m/f romance (which is the "main" one) is unnecessary or forced, and I mostly agree. I really enjoy romances in my books, but this one seemed to come on too abruptly given the circumstances. I definitely want to know more about Oran (this guy has some verrrry interesting backstory), but I could have waited for any romantic happenings between him and Caledonia to occur in book 2. There are some chapters when the sailors of the Mors Novis are stranded on land, and there's some great development between these two, but since Caledonia spends most of the book absolutely HATING Oran, this development is more of Caledonia feeling neutral towards Oran, rather than overtly hostile.

YA is really flush with pirate stories right now so I think each one needs to have some sort of hook to help it stand out from the rest. In Seafire's case, it's a fantasy with a lot of sci-fi parts. I actually got the feel that it could take place on Earth in 100+ years because some of the descriptions of land seemed familiar (I desperately want a map for this world, and I'm wondering if maybe they're holding off because it COULD be Earth in the future?). Seafire contains many typical sailing scenes, but the ships in the series aren't your typical sloops and schooners. In addition to regular wind-catching sails, the Mors Novis is also powered by solar sails and engines, and one of the ships they encounter has an electrified hull. This sci-fi take absolutely sets Seafire apart from other historical and fantasy pirate tales, and I think a lot of readers will appreciate this unique take as well. Sci-fi and fantasy are marvelous genres individually, but I think they're absolutely delicious when elements of each are combined.

Set in a fascinating and imaginative world, Seafire is a delightful female-powered pirate adventure that should captivate a lot of readers. There's a lot of action, both on and off the ship (I really loved a few gripping scenes on land and hope to see even more of that kingdom in books 2 & 3!), but engrossing action and an intriguing plot did not come at the cost of poor character development. After an intense climax that has many of our characters in peril, readers are going to NEED the next installment asap (like me!), and the intensity is surely only to ramp up because surely the malicious Aric will finally make his presence known, which will allow Caledonia and her girls to finally face the villain who has haunted them for years.

Trigger warning for drug use and extreme addiction and withdrawal.

Purchase Links:

About the Author:
Natalie C. Parker is the author of the Beware the Wild duology, the Seafire trilogy, and the editor of Three Sides of a Heart. She earned her BA in English literature from the University of Southern Mississippi and her MA in gender studies from the University of Cincinnati. She grew up in a Navy family finding home in coastal cities from Virginia to Japan. Now, she lives surprisingly far from any ocean on the Kansas prairie where she runs Madcap Retreats with her wife.

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  1. I have this one on my TBR. I like that the author made a female pirate book her own with the sci-fi parts (Illuminae made me believe in sci-fi again). I think I'm going to enjoy all the different relationships you mentioned in this book.

    1. I had no idea it was going to have those sci-fi elements, but they really helped Seafire stand out from the rest of the pirate crowd!

  2. I feel like there are so many ocean type books out lately and I am so excited about all of them! I'm working my way through them all.

    1. There are a TON of pirate books out right now, and it's so exciting! What are your favorites so far?

  3. I got this from the library and I can't wait to read it. I love that you mentioned it builds up the series though with the world and characters.

  4. I didn't know this was a book about pirates. I'd seen this book float around instagram and twitter and I added it to my TBR (mainly because of that cover!), but it isn't until I read this post that realized how cool it actually is,

  5. This looks to be an awesome book, love the cover as well. Will add to my TBR list. Thanks for pointing it out.