The Pirate and the Porcelain Girl by Emily Riesbeck and Nora J. Barna is a mixture of the novel Legends & Lattes by Baldree, a bit of Vox Machina, a smidgen of Guardians of the Galaxy (think Yondu) and “that other thing I can’t remember off the top of my head.” There are mature themes (pirates, GLBTQ romance, disowning by family, religion, revenge), but the humor and a little mystery are combined to take the edge off of things. This story is familiar, as it is a “be yourself story,” with a Sapphic twist and turns (and every other GLBTQ theme you could almost think of). Basically, The Pirate and The Porcelain Girl is a “girl meets girl” and “Pirate meets Damsel in Distress (DID)” stereotype, but has enough new to make it fresh. Even if the pirates might be a little unfresh and shall we say . . . really sassy! (Jazz hands, please).
We first have romance, then we have Gods and religion as the secondary theme. We have a Man-Child-Paladin wanting revenge. We have the Pirates who created their own land that is anti mainstream, but of course there is a code of conduct. Our main pirate gal, Brig, breaks the code of the pirates; disappoints her family (I am assuming her pirate family hides a secret to her biological family), and is the toughest cream-puff on the seas (unless you count Cutter who has a soft spot for “his girl” and is a father-figure to both her and later our DID). Then there is Ferra. Or The Porcelain Girl or aka the DID. But don’t call her a doll (even if she is made of porcelain and has a giant hole where her eye should be, and is cracked, and is really fragile)! She turns out to be the bridge between the “civilized” world and the pirate world and the world of the gods. She is both such a DID and fighter, that I ended up rooting for her, even if I was thinking, “WHY??? Didn’t you see “that” coming?” The two, Brig and Ferra, of course have a sort-of-enemies to lovers trope (they are never enemies, just never really friends). They have the “Country Girl meets the Pirate Girl who Fight the City Girl and the Other Bad Guys” trope. We have all the good stuff and it is fun, simple with some meat to it, read, but we are not talking about the next great novel. We are talking about that book you fondly remember years later.