12 Best Pirate Books and Stories Set on the High Seas

The Best Pirate Books and Stories

Looking for the best pirate books for adults? We’ve got you covered.

I’ve had a not-so-small obsession with pirate books since reading Peter Pan when I was younger. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my favorite book of all time is an adult pirate book.

Below, you’ll find some of our favorite pirate novels for older kids, teens, and adults. Each of these stories will ignite your imagination and have you wishing to take a swashbuckling adventure of your own!

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Pirate Books for Adults

Tress of the Emerald Sea

Tress of the Emerald Sea: A Cosmere Novel by Brandon Sanderson

If you love fantasy books of any kind, stop now and make time to read this fantastic book. This is the book that you would get if The Princess Bride had a book baby that empowered women everywhere to be the heroes in their own story, seek out adventure, and be brave enough to become who they were intended to be.

Tress has grown up on her tiny island with her one friend Charlie, who is also the Duke’s son, to keep her company. When the Duke takes Charlie away and he doesn’t return, Tress sets off to rescue him from the Sorceress who lives on the deadly Midnight Sea. She will encounter pirates, talking rats, betrayal, love, and friendship on her voyage.

This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. All the stars to this cozy book. While technically this is a fantasy book for adults, it is appropriate for a young adult or teen audience as well.

Find this book in Pirate Books / YA Fantasy / Best of 2023

Daughter of the pirate king

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

While researching the best pirate books, this story came up again and again. I can see why! It’s a swashbuckling, high-sea adventure about a pirate princess who is half siren.

The majority of this story is set aboard a ship as Alosa, faking her own captivity, is trying to discover a valuable treasure while tricking her captors. But she didn’t plan on catching feelings for first mate Riden. I just adored this fun pirate book and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Fantasy Pirate Novels

YA fantasy books about witches and pirates! Ahoy matey.

The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Flora and her brother are pirates on the Dove. In order to protect her identity, she has become Florian and is tasked with protecting Lady Evelyn on the ship until the time she can be sold.

Flora does not intend to fall in love with Evelyn and when the two free a captured mermaid, they change the fate of more than just her.

I am so glad that someone recommended this adult fantasy book to me. It is one of those books that really did not get the visibility that it should have. This book is so well written and is filled with magic while also exploring the power of love.

ther wisteria Society

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton

A fantasy historical romance about pirate assassins with magical powers? SIGN ME UP!

I gravitated toward this story because of the gorgeous cover, but I was hooked from the first page. I loved all the women in The Wisteria Society. I loved how they could fly around their homes like ships, how they stole and plundered with abandon, and how they did it all while making sure they were the picture of polite womanhood.

The love story was charming, but it was the antics of Cecilia and her quest to save her fellow society members that kept me turning the pages. This cozy book has a little bit of everything. We recommend this book to anyone who loves The Princess Bride.

Classic Adult Pirate Books

Princess Bride

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

This movie is one of my favorites of all time and I was so shocked to learn that it was originally a book.  If you lived through the ’80s then you might think that this is inconceivable but, alas, it is true. 

Read all about Buttercup and her beloved Wesley and their harrowing tale of finding true love.  It will not disappoint you.  You might even want to read the book to someone else.

In the book, the author is narrating for the reader and describing a fictional book that his father read to him as a child. Sound confusing? It’s straightforward and one of our favorite adult pirate books.

frenchmans creek

This book is my favorite book of all time. After reading Du Maurier’s Rebecca, I was eager to read more of her novels. At the time, my grandparents had a home in a Florida enclave by the same name so I picked it up and read it.

Only after I fell in love with this tale of

Find this book in Kirsten’s Favorites, Books set in Cornwall, Pirate Books, Classic Romance Novels

Classic Kids Books about Pirates

Peter Pan

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan is one of Kirsten’s favorite childhood stories. The magical world of Neverland with it’s pirates, mermaids, and natives is so engrossing.

The story of Peter Pan and his adventures with the Darling children have inspired countless spin-off books, movies, and theatrical productions for a reason. It’s a must-read classic children’s book for everyone.

Find this book in Pirate Books / Classic Kids Books / Cozy Books / Tween Fantasy Books

Treasure Island and more novels set in cornwall

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

This swashbuckling tale of piracy and treasure is perfect for children and adults alike. Long John Silver is quite a scary villain, whose legacy lives on in Halloween costumes everywhere.

One-legged, parrot-wearing, map-loving pirates everywhere can thank Robert Louis Stevenson for the inspiration. Why not read this book set in Cornwall to your little buccaneer at bedtime?

Find this book in Pirate Books / Best Classic Books / Books Set in Cornwall

Nonfiction Books about Pirates

The Wager

The Wager by David Grann

David Grann writes the most captivating nonfiction books that read like novels. The Wager is no exception. It’s a tale of the shipwreck of the English boat, Wager in 1742.

Encompassing the events that led up to the wrecking, the mutiny that happened after, and the dastardly deeds of some of the crew before and after their rescue kept me enthralled.

While not quite a pirate book, this high-seas boat book read like Treasure Island and kept me entertained while I pondered what I might have done in the same situation.

Middle Grade and YA Pirate Books

fable 1

Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young

October 2020 YA Reese’s Book Club Pick

If you are interested in young adult pirate books, you must add this to your list. This story of a bad-ass female pirate was incredible. Normally, I only like fantasies if they have a strong romantic element. But in Fable, I found myself drawn in by our namesake character and the vivid world description.

Well done, Reese with this sailing novelI need to go update our list of the best Reese Book Club picks now, because this one is top-notch. This is a must-read in this list of fantasy books for teens.

Realm Breaker

Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard

I adored Aveyard’s Red Queen series. It kept me turning the pages, utterly entranced. Sadly, Realm Breaker didn’t hold quite the same draw.

There were people on the run, a magical sword, budding romances, and the fight between good and evil, but none of the elements clicked for me. I’m hopeful the next pirate book in the series will draw me in more.

Peter and the Starcatchers

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Berry

This Peter Pan retelling finds Peter aboard a ship of sailors. He and a bunch of other orphans aboard the ship have to protect a treasure locked in a chest hidden on the ship from pirate captain Black Stache.

Think of this as the origin story of Tinkerbell, her fairy dust, and how Peter gained his ability to fly. It’s one of our favorite fairy tale retellings and is the perfect book for a 13-year-old. We are sure that any age will love this YA fantasy novel.

Which of the best pirate books are you planning to read?

Fantasy book list

Fantasy Book Lists

Do you love fantasy as much as we do? Come have a peek at all of our fantasy book lists to create your ultimate TBR!

Looking for the best pirate books for your child? We've got you covered from baby to middle grade readers!

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