How BLACK SAILS pretty much ruined a book: The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara


The Unbinding of Mary ReadeTITLE: The Unbinding of Mary Reade
AUTHOR: Miriam McNamara

RELEASED: June 19, 2018
PUBLISHER: Sky Pony Press

GENRE: YA Historical fiction, LGBTQIA+

TRIGGERS: Sexual assault, abuse, homophobia, transphobia

There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.


I guess the title already says a lot about how this review is going to go. I have a thing for pirates. Ever since Jack Sparrow, I am simply sold on any pirate-related movie, series or book. So, of course, I needed to read The Unbinding of Mary Reade but… Yeah, let’s just dive into this review.

The good

I honestly liked the writing style of Miriam McNamara. It was descriptive and really gave me the vibe you need to pull of a historical fiction novel like this one – especially one with pirates. It also read ridiculously fluently! Back when I read this, I was in a bit of a slump but I still managed to read it in under twelve hours – and that includes sleep?! I’m almost tempted to say this book pulled me out of said slump.

Of course, the f/f romance was a huge plus. I love anything LGBTQIA+ and I… quite… liked seeing Lucie and Anne Bonny’s relationship develop.

She was a girl like Anne – yet she knew without a doubt that she was also not a girl at all.

The bad

But… First of all, I got annoyed by Anne. Why? The Anne Bonny I know, is the mysterious, bad-ass one Black Sails gave us in their show. Not a woman in dresses who loves all things romance and needs men to solve her shit. It messed with my brain. It got on my nerves. I did not like it one bit.
I realize I should’ve kept the two Anne’s separate but it just wouldn’t work?! I kept thinking of how different she is and how it just didn’t feel right.

As for Nat, I simply wanted to know more. Him and Lucie hadn’t been in contact for a while and they don’t even feel the need to properly catch up with each other in the slightest. Like. What kind of friend is like that? I’d want to know everything he’s been up to! But not Lucie. Nope. Not her.

Apart from that, I also felt like the characters fell extremely flat. It was a cute story – sure – but there wasn’t really any development other than Mary’s journey towards accepting herself. That’s it.
I didn’t even feel like there was a focus on anything other than the romance and that’s just wrong – especially since I thought it would focus on Mary’s self-acceptance once I started reading but nope. That and it’s a pirates novel. There’s supposed to be some swashbuckling adventure and I didn’t get that at all!

Overall I did enjoy reading this novel, because it was such a quick read and the romance between two female characters definitely helped that but… I definitely had some issues with it as well, which is why I think three cupcakes is.. okay.

Have you ever found yourself being influenced by another book, movie or series on the same subject of the book you’re reading at that moment? Which one?



13 thoughts on “How BLACK SAILS pretty much ruined a book: The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

  1. Whoa whoa whoa. There’s no swashbuckling adventures? Of course I’m into this book for the f/f romance with a histfic background (I’ve read a lot of contemps with LGBTQ themes, so it’s cool to explore other genres with LBTQ characters) buuuut I still actually want the genre to have a role? Not just the romance. *sigh* Now I’m not sure if I want to read this. I really don’t have a big taste for romance. I *need* something else in the mix or I get bored fast.

    But thanks for the review! I definitely needed this insight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At least now you’re somewhat warned, right? I do hope you’ll end up enjoying it anyway so I’ll be looking forward to that review of yours!

      Totally get the getting bored thing. It’s what I struggle with every time I read too many books in the same genre without squeezing in another genre. :’)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Ooh, yes. I need to switch genres too from time to time. The worst is really if I read too many in one genre, then I get extremely critical in my reviews, even if it’s not necessarily the author’s fault (just me, being more and more picky!)

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Ooooh, I know the feeling! The thing I struggle with most at those times is their plot feeling unoriginal and then it all starts to get on my nerves because “how can this be SO PREDICTABLE and does it really have to be all the same?!” while.. there wouldn’t be anything wrong with it if I’d just read some other genres in between. :’)

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Uugh, that is the worst. You just can’t blame the author for something you sort of did to yourself, and now you’ve already started the book so you may as well finish even if it’s somewhat spoiled. Perhaps a spinning wheel of book genres, so we’re always reading something unexpected? This should be a new app!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha, I can relate to this. I don’t watch Black Sails, but I did play AC: Black Flag and I don’t think anyone can top that Mary Read for me.

    I definitely heard that this book is heavy on the romance and way too light on the piratey adventure :/ But I have an ARC as well so I really should read it soon, since release day is tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny how our minds can be so set on a person being a certain way and having trouble accepting anything else, hah.

      Yup, I’ve read some reviews saying the same thing. Felt like a relief, to be honest, because I was afraid I’d be the only one expecting more adventure.
      Oh, I hope you enjoy it still though!

      Liked by 1 person

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