Has the rising popularity of sea shanties on #seashantytok given you a hankering for fresh air, the open sea, and life on the waves? Check out our recommendations for books either set on a ship or by the sea.
Atlantia by Ally Condie
Years ago the Earth became inhabitable and, to save at least part of humanity, the great city of Atlantia was built beneath the ocean. Many were convinced to stay Above and to die young when their children were saved and sent Below. But now the Above has changed and Rio dreams of the day she can choose to live their herself. When her twin sister Bay chooses to go Above instead, however, Rio finds herself trapped in Atlantia. To be reunited with her sister, Rio will have to break all the rules, delving into the mystery surrounding her mother’s death and their city’s past, and maybe, for the first time, revealing her own terrible secret–she is a siren.
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C. S. Forester
Seventeen-year-old Horatio Hornblower embarks on his first naval adventure as England anticipates war with France. Though he longs to prove himself, however, life on the high seas is not all blood and glory. Interspersed with land invasions and naval engagements are confrontations with unruly sailors, tricky diplomatic negotiations, and the upcoming examination for lieutenant.
Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Kendall Kulper’s Salt & Storm is a masterpiece witch book. With an elaborately developed system of magic and a rich history of witches and their tenuous relationship with the normal people they help, Salt & Storm approaches the topic of witchcraft with insight and realism. In Salt & Storm, magic can earn one power and respect—but it also comes with a price. Protagonist Avery, who has dreamed of becoming the Prince Island witch since her childhood is willing, determined, to pay that price and more.
Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
Daughter of the Pirate King is a rollicking adventure that brings readers across the high seas with headstrong protagonist Alosa—the pirate princess herself. Alosa is clever, strong, and highly trained, the perfect pirate to take on the task of searching an enemy ship for a piece of a treasure map that will make her father wealthier and more renowned than anyone ever before.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
Edmund and Lucy return to Narnia along with their disagreeable cousin Eustace to sail unknown seas with their old friend King Caspian. He searches for the seven lords his uncle Miraz exiled many years ago when he wished to dispose of those who would oppose his usurpation of the throne. To complete the quest, however, one of the voyagers will have to sacrifice everything and choose to remain at the World’s End.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
A classic story set on a whaling ship, with tons of accurate details about sailing from Melville’s own experience. (The plot is good, too, but if you want a book set on a ship by an author who was actually on a ship and didn’t just research sailing, Moby Dick is for you!)
Along the Shore: Tales by the Sea by L. M. Montgomery
A wide-ranging selection of Montgomery’s tales that exemplify her story-telling art. Linked by the presence of the sea, these are sixteen enchanting tales, previously unpublished, forming a memorable volume for fans of the creator of Anne of Green Gables.
Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
Official Summary: As the Royal Navy takes part in the wars against Napoleonic France, young Jack Aubrey receives his first command, the small, old, and slow HMS Sophie. Accompanied by his eccentric new friend, the physician and naturalist Stephen Maturin, Aubrey does battle with the naval hierarchy, with his own tendency to make social blunders, and with the challenges of forging an effective crew — before ultimately taking on enemy ships in a vivid, intricately detailed series of sea battles
Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
Official Summary: After her family is killed by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas. She captains her ship, the Mors Navis, with a crew of girls and women just like her, who have lost their families and homes because of Aric and his men. The crew has one mission: stay alive, and take down Aric’s armed and armored fleet.
But when Caledonia’s best friend and second-in-command barely survives an attack thanks to help from a Bullet looking to defect, Caledonia finds herself questioning whether to let him join their crew. Is this boy the key to taking down Aric Athair once and for all . . . or will he threaten everything the women of the Mors Navis have worked for?
The Narrative of Arthur Gordan Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe
Poe’s work is notoriously inaccurate when it comes to the finer details of ships and sailing, but if you’re looking for a classic adventure to satisfy your craving for a book set on the seas, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym might do the trick,
Songs from the Deep by Kelly Powell
Official Summary: Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the deadly sirens who lurk along the shores of her island town. Even though their haunting songs can lure anyone to a swift and watery grave, she gets as close to them as she can, playing her violin on the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, the islanders assume that he’s one of the sirens’ victims. Moira isn’t so sure.
Certain that someone has framed the boy’s death as a siren attack, Moira convinces her childhood friend, the lighthouse keeper Jude Osric, to help her find the real killer, rekindling their friendship in the process. With townspeople itching to hunt the sirens down, and their own secrets threatening to unravel their fragile new alliance, Moira and Jude must race against time to stop the killer before it’s too late—for humans and sirens alike.
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora is known as Florian, a man willing to kill if it means his survival. The crew’s mission is to lure unsuspecting highborn passengers onto the ship so they can be sold as slaves on the Red Shore. But then the Lady Evelyn boards the ship and Flora is no longer certaain she can go along with the plan. Together, Flora and Evelyn attempt to escape, but there are greater powers at work than they know.
Fable by Adrienne Young
Left years ago by her father on an island of thieves, seventeen-year-old Fable has had to fend for herself. But she has a plan. She is going to work her way off the island, find her father, and reclaim what is hers. But the Narrows is a dangerous place, full of traders who will do anything to destroy their competition. Making it off the island will only be her first fight to survive.
Ship of Smoke and Steel by Django Wexler
familiar elements: the trained killer protagonist who wields dual blades and has a rare type of magic, who must complete an impossible task in order to protect the sister she loves. However, the execution of the novel is so original, so unusually dark that I found myself gripped by the story, even when I didn’t necessarily want to be.