Imagine a pirate ship with secret passageways full of fancy clothes, an entire library of built-in bookcases, fine china place settings, and a crew that deals with conflict by talking it out “as a crew.” Now, with the new show Our Flag Means Death, it’s a reality!
Enter Stede Bonnett, the self-proclaimed Gentleman Pirate. Unsatisfied with his wealthy, land-owning life at home, he sets sail on his ship The Revenge. Aboard, he wears fancy outfits, lounges in his library, and has a people-positive management style that leaves his crew itching for adventure.
Enter Blackbeard, terrifying by name alone. He’s leather-clad, black-bearded (well, okay gray-bearded), and bored. So bored. Fascinated by this Gentleman Pirate’s original take on piracy, the pair team up to learn a thing or two from each other. As they swordfight, story tell, and scare alike, the two find a deeper connection than either of them expected.
The crew around them is equally delightful with an on-screen non-binary character, a gay couple, and lots of hijinks. With all of the comedy you’d expect from a David Jenkins series and the pure joy of watching actors Rhys Darby and Taika Waititi in the lead roles, this show is a must watch!
Now, if you’ve finished episode ten and are itching for something to fill the void while we wait for confirmation of a season two, here are ten books like Our Flag Means Death to pick up to help you through it.
Books Like Our Flag Means Death
On a Lee Shore by Elin Gregory
After losing his ship, Captain Christopher “Kit” Penrose takes a job as a valet to an elderly British diplomat. But pirates attack the ship soon after setting sail, and he’s taken hostage on board Captain La Griffe’s vessel. As he acclimates to working with these pirates and outrunning the navy, Kit struggles with being on the wrong side of the law. His new captain, though, intrigues him more than he’ll admit. As he learns more about the pirate way of life, he learns more too about the captain, and this draw they seem to have to each other. This is perfect if you liked the discussions of morality and the pirate romance in Our Flag Means Death.
In Deeper Waters by F. T. Lukens
Prince Tal has spent most of his life in the walls of the castle, hiding away. But finally, it’s time for his coming-of-age tour through the kingdom with his brother. On their journey, they encounter a ship with a prisoner inside. Tal, drawn to this stranger named Athlen, is disappointed when he jumps overboard and disappears. But when pirates kidnap Tal with a plot to reveal his magical secret, it’s the stranger’s turn to return the favor. This sweet, sea-based high fantasy romance is perfect for fans who want similar vibes but in the YA world.
Captain Merric by Rebecca Cohen
Captain Daniel Horton works for the Queen’s Navy, putting his duty before his family and his future. His crew, though, isn’t happy with his leadership and mutinies, throwing him overboard. Along comes Captain Merric, a skilled pirate secretly longing for a quiet life. Captain Merric fishes the man from the water, realizing afterward it was a blast from his past. Daniel and Merric were in love, once, but circumstances separated them. Now, together again, can they get past their past and move on, or will what happened keep them apart forever? If you liked the themes of longing for another life in Our Flag Means Death, pick this up!
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Aristotle, who goes by Ari, doesn’t know how to swim. His brother is in prison, his outlook on life plagued by his self-doubt. Dante knows how to swim, loves poetry, and is open to the world in ways Ari can’t understand. They come together and forge a bond that leads them to explore who they want to be. If you liked the sunshine/grumpy vibe from Our Flag Means Death or want touching water metaphors and explorations of identity but in a contemporary YA form, check this out!
The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
To get off the streets (and avoid starvation) Flora takes on a new identity, Floridian, and joins the crew on a pirate ship. The ship, under the guise of transporting passengers, then stage an uprising and take the passengers prisoner. On one such journey, Lady Evelyn is on board, en route to an arranged marriage she desperately wants out of. Floridian is assigned to watch Evelyn and the pair unexpectedly bond despite their far different circumstances and pasts. If you liked Jim’s character, the clashing of aristocrat and pirate ways, and unexpected bonds in the show, this one’s for you!
Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess by Jeremy Whitley, Artist Rosy Higgins, and Artist Ted Brandt
Raven’s father is the Pirate King, and she’s set to inherit his empire. But her brothers locked her in a tower and took her rightful place. Now she’s out for revenge, and to do it, she needs a crew. Enter Sunshine, a cunning thief, Ximena, their navigator, and Jay, their explosions expert. This diverse, kickass group of women take to the seas proving piracy isn’t only a man’s game. If you liked the humor and swashbuckling alike in OFMD, you’re sure to love this.
A Clash of Steel: A Treasure Island Remix by C.B. Lee
Xiang grew up sheltered in a remote village when she discovers a clue to treasure: a pendant her father left her before he died. Too bad it was stolen by a girl named Anh. The pair strike up a deal and set sail, in search of the long-lost treasure of the great pirate Zheng Yi Sao. This sapphic retelling of Treasure Island has themes of found family, adventure on the sea, and love in unexpected places you likely loved in Our Flag Means Death. Give it a try!
How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole
Makeda doesn’t want to be a princess. She’s too busy dealing with the fall out after losing her job and girlfriend in one day. When Beznaria, an investigator, shows up and tries to convince her to sail to Ibarania to claim her title as heir there, she’s hesitant. After a threat against her grandmother comes, she agrees to join the intriguing investigator to climb aboard. This nails the grumpy/sunshine dynamic, sea-faring adventures, and queer romance all in one, making it one of the books like Our Flag Means Death you need to read.
The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton
The Wisteria Society ladies are tea-drinking Victoria ladies who also happen to be excellent at blackmail, thievery, and piracy. Cecilia is trying to convince her elders she’s ready to be one of their members when Ned Lightbourne shows up and announces he’s been ordered to kill her by his employer, Captain Morvath. Ned, however, can’t bring himself to kill his target and instead the pair team up to prove she belongs in the Wisteria Society. This whimsical, adventure-packed historical fantasy has the zany delight of OFMD and the shenanigans too.
Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown
When Chef Owen “Wedge” Wedgewood is kidnapped by pirates, he isn’t expecting the request he receives from the captain: cook a gourmet meal for her every Sunday and he’ll live. The captain in question? The notorious dread Hannah Mabbot, ruthless in her escapades. On the ship, though, Wedge finds very little to work with. Forced to make do and tag along on the pirate’s adventures, their Sunday dinners lead to talking and understanding each other more. Despite his fighting against it, Wedge is interested in the Captain who captured him. This middle-aged unlikely pairing at sea is a must read for OFMD fans.
I hope one of these fine books like Our Flag Means Death will help fill the finale’s void while we wait for a season two. For more sea-based adventures, also try the best YA pirate stories or these YA books about female pirates.