Uncharted (Alli Temple)

Uncharted is a novel by Alli Temple.
Finished on: 27.2.2021
[I won this in a Joyfully Jay giveaway.]

Content Note: sexualized violence, (critical treatment of) misogyny and homomisia (more details here)

Georgina, called George, was able to live her life in relative security so far. Even though women are very limited in what they can do and how they can move about, her brother, who is responsible for her, has been mostly ignoring her, which gave her the chance to engage with the resistance against the cruel Prince and his repressive policies that seem more interested in sending out more and more ships and sailors to die at the hands of Pirate Captain Cinder than feeding the people who remain at home. But everything changes when her brother announces that he has engaged her to the very Prince George has been fighting against. Before that reality can really sink in, George and her maid Rosie are kidnapped, though, by Cinder and her crew and everything changes yet again.

Uncharted was a really good read. Entertaining, interesting world-building, nice characters and a lesbian pirate love story – yes, please. The pacing, especially with regards to the romance, wasn’t always perfect, but I did enjoy it a lot.

The book cover showing a dark-haired woman with a crown and ball gown, her back towards the camera. Behind her we can see a big sailboat and the sea.

The book takes about a third of its time until the pirates actually show up, so if you expect pirate shenanigans right from the start, you might be disappointed. But I thought that the first third is probably the strongest part of the book, firmly establishing the setting of its world, and George and Rosie as characters. Along with George, I questioned the Prince and his intentions and wondered what was going on.

When things move from land to the sea, I felt that the book lost its footing a little. The reveal of who is behind Cinder was rather obvious, but I didn’t mind that. What I did mind, though, is that we and George almost get to spend more time with Maro (a non-binary character who is at first misgendered by George but when George is corrected, she immediately adjusts and continues to use only their correct pronouns) and Ender than with Cinder herself. And I need characters to spend time together a little more to buy into their romance.

So the pacing here was a little off: at first things went too slow, leaving too much distance between Cinder and George, and then everything went really fast. And in that fastness, I not only had trouble with the romance, I also didn’t really believe the way that the ethical issues were resolved between them.

That may sound very bad, but it actually wasn’t. I still enjoyed their romance and ultimately there was more about it that I liked than I didn’t like (even though it wasn’t so 100% cute like Ender and Rosie). And anyway, the book isn’t all romance – there is also plenty of action and intrigue and these things worked very well for me.

Overall, I really had fun with this book – if you’re looking for a pirate story and/or a sapphic story, go for it. I am sure you will have fun.

Summarizing: entertaining.

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