Reasons for Inclusion: Racially diverse cast, various sexualities featured, depression discussed, class and social issues discussed
Harriet Rogers is a pirate almost too honorable for the title. She rescues slaves, protects refugees, manages her gathered family. The most pillaging she does involves liberating jam and jewels from the pleasure ships of the wealthy. She and her crew travel to incredible places, make friends and fight enemies, always in style and with a lot of heart, all the while watching for signs of Harry’s kidnapped sister.
This book interested me right away – lesbian pirates! But I quickly learned that it’s a lot more than that. And I loved it all the more for it. It’s not just a romance, it’s several romances, and several plots that have nothing to do with romance. The Sappho’s crew is an intriguing cast of mostly women, a few men, and as of this first book in the series, at least one genderqueer character. They come from various social classes, races, and even species. There are gay and lesbian characters, bi ones, straight ones, asexual ones. Some are disabled, or cope with mental illness. The story comments on social issues of the time, and it’s rarely heavy-handed. The characters help each other and work together to survive, even in the strangest and most difficult of circumstances
The story is told in episodic form. Events in the present day alternate with various crewmembers’ backstories. This could be confusing at times, as there’s no obvious indication of chronology, but as I pieced the story together, I wanted to read more and more about these characters and their relationships. I especially liked Kai, the merman, and his discussions with various crewmembers on the differences between mer culture and the human world.
This was exactly what I wanted: diverse seafaring fantasy with a lot of heart and more focus on friendship than on fighting. I absolutely recommend this book.