The Pirate Captain’s Daughter

Written by Eve Bunting
Review by Michaela MacColl


In the late 1880s, Catherine lives respectably with her mother, letting friends and neighbors believe that her father is a navy captain. But Catherine’s father is really the captain of a pirate ship. Catherine has romantic notions of joining him one day. When her mother dies, her childhood dreams take on a life of their own. Catherine begs her father to let her dress as a boy and join his pirate crew. He helps her disguise herself as Charlie, a young sailor who can play pirate shanties. Once on board, she discovers the pirate life is brutal and dirty. To preserve his own authority, her father can’t protect her. In fact, both their lives are forfeit if her gender is discovered – girls are bad omens on pirate ships. Catherine/Charlie finds friends among the crew, particularly a handsome cabin boy. But she and her father also have enemies on the ship: two brothers who want a secret treasure belonging to her father.

Bunting has written a rollicking pirate yarn filled with action and delicious pirate details. Catherine’s transformation from young miss to ship’s musician was reasonably credible. Bunting wasn’t afraid to answer those questions that all readers ask themselves (where will Catherine pee?). Catherine’s romantic interest in William the cabin boy was handled deftly and was believable. Occasionally Catherine’s motivations and emotions did seem slightly off-kilter, but this did not detract from my enjoyment of this page-turner.