Steel by Carrie Vaughn | Book Review

Steel, Carrie VaughnSteel by Carrie Vaughn
US Release Date: March 15th 2011
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Standalone

Source: Purchased
Hardcover, 294 pages

Rating, Two stars

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It was a slender length of rusted steel, tapered to a point at one end and jagged at the other, as if it had broken. A thousand people would step over it and think it trash, but not her. This was the tip of a rapier.

Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure.

The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate’s life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.

Time travel, swordplay, and romance combine in an original high-seas adventure from New York Times bestseller Carrie Vaughn.

Summary from Goodreads


One month after she lost a fencing tournament by half a second, sixteen year old Jill Archer still can’t believe it. It’s spring break and her family is going on a vacation to the Bahamas where they rented a vacation house close to the beach a couple of miles from Nassau. But she can’t find any pleasure in the white sand beaches or azure waters. One day, after her mother insists she goes with them to the beach, she finds an old sword in the sand and decides to keep it.

The next day, while they are on a boat tour and a storm is coming, Jill is thrown overboard by the agitated ocean. One moment, she’s next to the tour boat and the next, five men rescue her on a wooden rowboat. She doesn’t understand when they try to harm her, but she soon learns what is going on. She’s now in the 18th century on the Diana, Captain Marjory Cooper’s pirate ship and the piece of sword she found on the beach is related to all of this.

The beginning was very promising. We meet Jill who doesn’t like losing, is very competitive and proud. When pirates try to harm her, she defends herself with one of the pirate’s rapier and is even more fierce when men start laughing at her. Then, there is Henry with an athletic shape, a beautiful smile and just looks handsome. And he has that smug attitude that you feel will create sparks between the two characters, which I adore when it happens. But it fell flat after that. I felt like there was no character development at all. I loved Jill in the beginning, but after she does absolutely nothing to help but clean the boat, drinking rum, compare everything that happens with her world and whining. I didn’t dislike her, but I had no emotional connection to her either. The summary promises a romance, but there was none. Some characters did kiss, but it was out of nowhere really. Most of the book is about life on the ship, scrubbing the deck so the wood won’t rot because of the salt water (didn’t know that!) and sometimes a fight.

But not all was bad! I absolutely love the world. I know the author did a lot of research to be the most accurate possible about the era, pirates, sailing and fencing. The details were so vivid. I loved that because I learned so much with this book like why they always scrub the deck, that they had to clean the hull three times a year, etc. I loved that real pirates were mentioned like Mary Read and Anne Bonny. I also really felt like I was myself on that boat, seasick with all the movement caused by the waves and exhausted after 10 hours of cleaning the deck. I found funny when someone talked about punishments and that one of them was to be left alone on an island with only water and a pistol with one bullet. It reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean. I love this movie and Jack Sparrow!

I recommend this book to people that love fighting (especially sword fighting!) action and adventures. The story was good but if you’re looking for characterization, romance, depth, this book may not be for you.

First Line

Jill shook her legs out one at a time.”

Favorite Quotes

We’re not so lawless, we have some honour, and most of all that means treating each other right.”


Author’s Info:
Carrie VaughnCarrie Vaughn survived her air force brat childhood and managed to put down roots in Colorado. Her first book, Kitty and the Midnight Hour, launched a popular series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk-radio advice show. She is also the author of Voices of Dragons, her debut novel for teen readers. Ms. Vaughn lives in Colorado. From HarperTeen.

For more info on Veronica Rossi, visit her sites:
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