A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The myth of the Sirens is essential to the plot. Princess Alosa's prized books do double duty as hiding places for weapons.
Murder, treachery, seduction (as a weapon), as well as drunkenness and thieving, are perfectly normal daily activities. Against this dark backdrop, occasional acts of kindness, concern for others, and twinges of conscience stand out in sharp contrast as the two central characters try to rise above their bad beginnings.
Positive Role Models
Princess Alosa is smart, snarky, a good leader, and more than a match for any adversary. Unlike most of the characters, including her father, she genuinely cares for the welfare of her crew and also of Riden, one of her captors, with whom she develops a strong bond. None of this stops her from slaughtering often-defenseless adversaries or ordering her crew to do likewise. Both she and Riden have daddy issues aplenty: He has killed his brutal father, also a pirate king, to protect his (also brutal) brother, while she's spent her 17 years struggling for the approval of a man who constantly tortures and imprisons her to "test her powers."
Violence & Scariness
There's little wallowing in gory description, but violent death, torture, beatings, and betrayal are a constant and normalized presence. Rape is a personal preference of some pirates. The heroine-narrator and her captors stab, shoot, and throat-slash a few of each other's men just to set the scene, a preview of plenty more to come.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There's a lot of romantic tension between Alosa and Riden, along with a suggestion that both of them have plenty of experience with numerous partners. For much of the story they share a bed, but as much to keep her under guard as to have heavy make-out sessions. Alosa talks a lot about seducing this or that (fr)enemy, but in practice, after some heavy kissing, she puts them to sleep with her siren powers or knocks them over the head and then strips them to search their clothes. Her father is allegedly the only man to survive having sex with a siren, resulting in Alosa's birth. He brags about it a lot. Other less fortunate sailors meet violent deaths at the hands of the sea ladies.
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Occasional "damn," "hell," "bloody," "arse," "piss," "balls"; references to whores and whorehouses.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One of the pirates has a serious drinking problem, and most of the others get drunk a lot (which gives Alosa a chance to escape and pursue her quest while they're passed out).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that despite heavy marketing of its title character (a snarky, tricky, self-possessed 17-year-old) as "a lady Jack Sparrow," Daughter of the Pirate King features a stunning quantity and casual acceptance of brutal violence as all in a day's work. That violence includes stabbings, throat-cuttings, beatings, torture, rape, and more. Princess Alosa and her 18-year-old captor/love interest have the occasional ethical twinge, setting them apart from most of the other characters. The story is fast-paced and a fun read, but its moral compass points to pretty dark territory.
Is It Any Good?
Princess Alosa tells a fine tale, has many adventures, and takes care of herself, but the sheer overwhelming carnage as the story unfolds goes way beyond piratical genre-driven window-dressing. First-time author Tricia Levenseller delivers a spirited, snarky heroine who's quite at home in a murderously dysfunctional environment:
"'Kill the rest,' I say.
"Sorinda is the first to take out her sword. She starts stepping behind the men and slitting throats one after the other. Killing is practically an art for her. The way she moves is magical."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.