A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee

Book: A Clash of Steel

Author: C.B. Lee

Genre: YA; Retelling; Pirates; LGBTQ+

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Publication Date: September 7, 2021

Format: Physical Book

Length: 304 pages

Xiang has spent the first sixteen years of her life in a small inland village, yearning for adventure, excitement, and the approval of her mother. When she and her tutor, Master Feng, finally convince Xiang’s mother to bring her to Canton, Xiang finds herself awed by the crowds, languages, and foods she sees in the port city. One particular new acquaintance, Anh, turns Xiang’s world upside down when she steals then returns a necklace. Anh believes it may be the key to finding the hidden treasure of Dragon Lady pirate Zheng Yi Sao.

I’ve read the original Treasure Island, but I’ll admit it’s been years. From what I do remember, I’d say that this is inspired by the classic tale, but not chained to it. It was very rewarding to watch Xiang as she grew up and gained agency over the course of the book. I really liked the relationship between Xiang and Anh. It was sweet and tentative.

I really love the extra little touches of this book outside of the story itself. The cover art is beautiful and there’s a map of the area on the inside cover. There’s also an author’s note by C.B. Lee explaining some of the backstory of why pirates have fascinated her and why she ended up writing this book.

Thank you to BookishFirst and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for an Advanced Reader Copy.

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