Historical Fiction (Teen), YA Fiction

Review: The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

A historical fiction story featuring female pirates - based on real historical figures!


Disclaimer: I received an eARC copy of this book from Netgalley, and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This blog contains affiliate links. I make a small commission when you decide to buy books via the Amazon or Book Depository purchase links available in the book review's post.


While I have rarely read a book about pirates, it isn’t for lack of trying. I LOVE PIRATES but I just haven’t found many novels that feature them. That’s why I was absolutely psyched to be approved for this title and give my opinion on it! So here is my review:

The Unbinding of Mary Reade book cover

The Unbinding of Mary Reade

by Miriam McNamara

Published May 19, 2018 by Sky Pony Press
ISBN: 1510727051

Data from Goodreads

Summary (Goodreads): 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.

My Review

Oh boy… where do I start with this novel? I so wanted to love it but it just did not work at all. I think the idea was fantastic. It just failed on execution.

The Cons: What I didn’t like

  • I found the story to be quite boring, which is weird because this is a book about PIRATES. But it really just felt like nothing was happening throughout the story; at times, it even felt like a biography than an actual fictional tale.
  • It was hard to distinguish the different voices of the characters because they just didn’t really have much of a personality. I think Anne Bonny was developed a little bit better than Mary Reade, but even that is a bit of a stretch. Generally, the characters were very one-dimensional and were hard to connect with.
  • I also didn’t love the writing as it was far too juvenile for this type of story. It read more like a middle grade book than a YA fiction novel. It also seemed as if it was just a draft copy and not a full-fledged book. It definitely needed a lot more editing for the story to really shine through.

I don’t want to go on and on bashing this novel. Clearly, the author had a really great concept and just wasn’t able to follow through with it. Suffice to say that it wasn’t what I had wanted or expected. For those reasons, I’m giving it a 1/5 stars.

0 thoughts on “Review: The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

  1. I picked up the book for the pirate concept too which really fell short. I told people if they’re looking for a coming out novel or something of that sort, you may like it but if you’re reading for adventure it’s definitely going to be a dud. I had to stop reading and reset my mind on what it was going to be and then i actually enjoyed it a little.

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