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The Unbinding of Mary Reade

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  560 ratings  ·  188 reviews
A clever, romantic novel based on the true story of a girl who disguised herself as a boy to sail with the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack—and fell in love with Anne Bonny.

There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certai
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published June 19th 2018 by Sky Pony Press
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Average rating 3.35  · 
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I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

3.5 stars

This book is perfect for those who are a lot into romance and not that much into action.
I personally love books with pirates in them, but I also admit that I’m not the biggest fan of action scenes and all of the things you would expect from a book where everyone is a pirate. So, this overall worked for me, but it won’t work for you if you’re going into it expec
Elle (ellexamines)
Sep 24, 2017 marked it as zzzzz-coverporn-etc
up for free on Netgalley! it's 2018 and someone is publishing Anne Bonny x Mary Reade fanfiction and it deserves love ...more
Feb 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
The Unbinding of Mary Reade is a historical fiction standalone novel following Mary Reade, a girl who dresses as a boy to become a pirate, before and after she met Anne Bonny, a pirate girl Mary will fall in love with.

I didn’t have any strong feelings about this book. Nothing stood out to me, and the only thing I actually liked about it was the premise.

When I read a book about pirates, I hope to find interesting adventures and people exploring new places, not 300 pages of the main character tryi
Jun 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
The Unbinding of Mary Reade is an early 18th century tale that features a young woman experiencing her sexual awakening and struggling with her identity. Mary Reade has long masqueraded as her deceased brother, Mark. First, as a way in which she can sustain a living for her and mother, then as a way to inherit her rich grandmother's fortune, and finally to take to the high seas where eventually she meets up with pirates.

As the chapters switch back and forth between 1717 and 1719-1720, this sto
anna (½ of readsrainbow)
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs, dropped
i received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

oh boy, i've been waiting for this book for like 5 months!! i was so excited!! i mean, come on, it doesn't get better than gay pirates. it can get worse, tho.

if u've ever read even one sapphic book abt pirates - especially if it was published a few years ago - u know this very particular feel they have. it's kind of hard to describe in a single word but it pretty much boils down to choppy, rushed writing, maki
Jul 12, 2017 marked it as to-read
*collects all the queer lady pirates under my wing* daughters of whom I am most proud
Caidyn (he/him/his)
This review can also be found here!

1.5/5 – DNF at 36%

TW: homophobia, transphobia, and sexism

Thanks to Netgalley for an advanced copy! This did not affect my rating/review.

Well, no one is more disappointed than I am. I thought that I would love or, at least, really enjoy this book. But I didn’t.

This book is a retelling of Mary Reade’s life. It’s well-known that she dressed as a male after her older half-brother died and her mother needed more income. This book takes that and then expands it to en
A copy of this novel was provided by Sky Pony Press for review via Edelweiss.


1) Queer pirates!!!!

2) Queer pirates falling in love!!!

3) Gender discourse regarding the cross-dressing storyline!!

4) Pirating!


1) I suppose I’ll give The Unbinding of Mary Reade this one. This book was about a queer pirate girl, and also featured another queer pirate girl. I think this aspect was my favourite of the entire book. The fact that it was about queer pirates.

2) There were queer pirates fall
Aimee ♥ | Aimee, Always
Well, I tried. I got through the first 8% of the book before saying goodbye to it. It's been so long since a book bored me like this one did--and to think, it's supposedly a kick-ass pirate book.

The writing was bland, the main character had a weird, confusing personality, and I couldn't tell the difference between any of the side characters.

*I won't be rating this since I didn't get to my 30% DNF mark.
May 25, 2017 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gorgeous-covers

to be honest, i will most likely die even if it IS anne
Lea (drumsofautumn)
Video Review

You might know that I absolutely love pirates and f/f romance. Both together is even better, so I was incredibly excited when I first heard about this book and I've been anticipating and shouting about it ever since.
When I first heard of some of the bad reviews, I adjusted my expectations but this ended up being even more of a trash fire than I could've believed possible.

Now I am not someone who criticises pirate books very harshly. I don't mind if there's not a lot of actual
Lauren ✨ (TheBookishTwins)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy via Edelweiss for review purposes.

trigger warnings: abuse, sexual assault, homophobia, transphobia

I will admit that I had expectations when I went into The Unbinding of Mary Reade. I was so excited about this book. Sapphic pirates? YES! That is probably the only plus that I can find in this book. It could have been so amazing, especially because it’s by an #ownvoices author.

If you’re looking for a cute, fluffy or even a happy f/f romance, I wouldn’t look to th
This was in no way the wlw (or queer in general) kick-ass pirate adventure story I hoped for, nor was it the diverse historical fiction I love.

I've spent some time mulling how on earth an au/possible-universe queer pirate book didn't do it for me, and this is what I came up with. This isn't an-depth intellectual or a sociocultural examination of it (I'm so not the right person for that); this a dirty, unrefined super-spoilery, "let's English major this up" breakdown of my own reactions that woul
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I want more books like this.
I want more pirates. I want more ships. I want more ocean.
But most importantly I want more exploration of gender and sexuality!!

I will not say this book is without flaw, but I will say I think McNamara went about the harder topics of homophobia and sexism in a way that would be true to the time (the 1700's), AS WELL AS gave our main character so much strength that the message of that prejudice being okay would ever come home with the reader.

The element of self disc
Tyler J Gray
Aaaah. I was so looking forward to getting this in March but it's been pushed back to June. A pirate book with girl pirates and wlw and a bisexual character and I can't waiiiit. I am so here for this. I rarely ever pre-order but i'm going to have to make an exception for this book if I can! I NEED IT. I just saw it on Netgalley but i'm resisting because I know i'll get it either way once it comes out. Just figured i'd let y'all know it's on Netgalley :)

Edit: Screw what I said. I realized it's "r
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing heart is so freaking full after finishing this book!!! I went into it expecting a story telling the tale of a girl who wasn’t quite sure who she was, and that’s exactly what I got! I also got some epic pirate scenes, some forbidden romance, and an ending that put a ginormous smile on my face! There were definitely some tough scenes (it is set in the 1700s after all), but they just made the story more real for me! I loved the characters, and I loved seeing Mary’s character evolve!

If you’
Meg Wiviott
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful story about self-discovery and self-acceptance all rolled into an historical pirate story!
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book, arc
First let me thank Netgalley, Miriam McNamara and Sky Pony Press for this ARC ebook.

I was entranced by the idea, championing the LGBTQ romance, fell in love with the cover, and was ready to fall in love with this book. The problem was I didn't fall in love, I didn't even come to like it till I got towards the end and by then my crush on "The Unbinding Of Mary Reade" was no more.

McNamara had a great idea in taking the real-life Mary Reade and Anne Bonny and writing a book about them which is why
Kathy - Books & Munches
I have a thing for pirates. Ever since Jack Sparrow, I am simply sold on any pirate-related movie, series or book. So, of course, I needed to read The Unbinding of Mary Reade but... Yeah...

I honestly liked the writing style of Miriam McNamara. It was descriptive and really gave me the vibe you need to pull of a historical fiction novel like this one - especially one with pirates. It also read ridiculously fluently!

Of course, the f/f romance was a huge plus. I love anything LGBTQIA+ and I... quit
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely love stories featuring pirates, so I am always on the look out for new novels to read. The Unbinding Of Mary Reade immediately appealed to me for this reason, however I was really disappointed.

The biggest problem I had with this novel was that it was not the swashbuckling, pirate adventure I was hoping for. There was very little action as the main narrative centred around the various romances featured throughout the book. As a result, I struggled to engage with the story and therefo
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

If you are expecting a pirate adventure that is non-stop adventure - then this might not be for you. Don't get me wrong, there's action scenes and killing abound - but what truly lies at the heart of this story is more of a romance plot line. That didn't mean I hated it, but it just wasn't what I was expecting.

Moving on to the review, because there was more of an emphasis on roman
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-netgalley
This review, and many others, can be found at Lost in My Library. I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Oh, this is exactly what I have wanted for so long! Not only queer historical fiction, but queer historical fiction based on real people! And from what I've read (which is admittedly not much), a lot of the events on the book are based on real events.

It was a bit hard for me to get my bearings at first. I love stories told in multiple times at onc
Aneta Bak
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, edelweiss
The Unbinding of Mary Reade is the perfect YA novel for all history fans.

After Mary's brother dies, her mother tries to pass her off as her deceased brother in order to get some money from Mary's grandmother. But when a maid in her grandmother's manor discovers her secret, Mary decides that she would rather prefer a life at sea. When a pirate ship attacks, Mary spots a woman among the other pirates, Anne doesn't have to hide the fact that she's a woman, unlike Mary. Intrigued, Mary decides to sh
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
It saddens me to say this book just lost its mark. If you are expecting this to be an exciting tale of piracy or an epic f/f romance this won't be a book you enjoy either.

What really made this book fail for me was that the choice to tell the story nonlinearly turned everything into a mixed puzzle that never went anywhere to show me the full picture. I'd feel way more attached to the protagonist if we got everything in the right order. I usually like stories told out of order but this one just fe
Mae Pelster
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was sent an advance copy of this wonderful, rollicking adventure, and I loved experiencing Jack Sparrow's Caribbean through a feminine perspective. The confused budding sexuality is everything one could hope for from a girl in breeches living the life of a swashbuckling pirate. You can't help rooting for Mary! ...more
Susan Lubner
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I haven’t read any pirate stories (outside of picture books!) so this was a new adventure for me! Loved the strong fierce women portrayed in this book. Lots of inner and external conflicts happening here, which made for a great amount of tension throughout the story.
Asha - A Cat, A Book, And A Cup Of Tea
One of my most anticipated books for this year was The Unbinding of Mary Reade, which is a YA story based on my favourite gang of pirates – Calico Jack, Anne Bonny and Mary Read. There’s a fair bit of controversial content in this book, but if you’re prepared to weather a few somewhat uncomfortable situations, then this is a very interesting read that brings Anne and Mary’s relationship to the fore.

Let’s get the difficult stuff out of the way first. This is a historical novel, and pirates genera
Marie -The Reading Otter

I recieved this book from NetGalley for review.

Well, this book was disappointingly boring. Pirates, and boring. Such a shame. There was potential in this book. But honestly, everything is so dull.
This book has a really heavy focus on romance and ignores a lot of actual pirating. The romance aspect wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't the main focus of a story about pirates. It's based on a true story, that I feel might be more interesting and exciting than this book is. So this book br
Katie  (chaotagecore)
I have really mixed feelings about this book.

-Sapphic relationship
-Coming to terms with sexuality and gender identity/expression in a healthy way even though the character's surroundings were so against anything that wasn't 'normal' showed unique strength that I was interested in reading.
-A tiny bit of pirate life
-The pacing was simply lovely. I was really proud of myself when I guessed correctly that the author was going to end the book with the first chapter.

- Most of the
Aug 01, 2018 rated it liked it
The Unbinding of Mary Reade is full of forbidden YA romance, mistaken identities and pirates galore!

In a Twelfth Night meets As You Like It pirate twist we meet Mary Reade who has been living a double life. She has spent most of her time disguised as her brother Mark. The story is told across timelines with flashbacks to her past. In the present we meet her working on board a ship as it is attacked by pirates. Dressed as Mark, Mary finds herself spared by the infamous pirate captain, Calico Jac
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Miriam McNamara was born in Ireland, raised in the Southern US, and is a new, proud resident of the Midwest. She has dressed up as some variation on pirate for Halloween more years than she has not—her favorite still being Rollerskating Pirate, circa 2003. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where The Unbinding of Mary Reade won the Norma Fox Mazer Award for a YA work-in-progress. Sh ...more

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