A Clash of Steel: A Treasure Island Remix by C.B. Lee
Series: Remixed Classics #1
Published September 7th 2021 by Feiwel and Friends
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Representation: LGBT (main f/f, side m/m), Asian (Chinese, Vietnamese)
Two intrepid girls hunt for a legendary treasure on the deadly high seas in this YA remix of the classic adventure novel Treasure Island.
1826. The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd businesswoman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her single memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry.
But the pendant’s true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang’s father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure—the plunder of a thousand ports—that for decades has only been a myth, a fool’s journey.
Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea—and especially those who sail it—are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.
Thank you to Colored Pages Tour for choosing me as one of the participants in the #AClashofSteel tour. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. If you’re interested in the other tour stops, check out the schedule!
For all her life, Xiang wants to make her mother proud of her. To gain her mother’s approval, nothing will stand in Xiang’s way. A wanderer by heart, Xiang had always wanted to travel away from the little village she grew up in, the safe place her father, who perished at sea, wanted for Xiang to grow up in.
The day Ahn stole Xiang’s pendant and showed her the hidden map, Xiang decided that obtaining the legendary Head of the Dragon Fleet’s last treasure will be the achievement that proves her worth to her mother. Throughout the journey, Xiang experienced belonging with the rest of the crew, the closeness between people, and the taste of freedom while making her own decisions. She realized that she didn’t want to settle for anything less.
When sunset clouds fall into the deep ocean blue
The place where the spider-lilies bloom longing for distant vistas
Weary traveler, for what aspiration do you come?
The tiger’s tears shine brightly at the second watch of night.
In A Clash of Steel, Xiang recognizes that approval doesn’t have to come from her mother. She went from a village girl who yearned for more to someone who grabbed every chance she got to get what she desires. Not only does she had a resolution for that feeling, but Xiang also found herself wondering about Ahn a lot more than she anticipated. The romance just felt so tender and sweet. Xiang also learns how to trust others and who she could trust.
One thing C.B. Lee does brilliantly was drawing me in with her descriptions of different places. Set in 1826, the world along the trade route is already culturally diverse with people speaking in multiple languages. It goes the same for the crew on the ship. This retelling of Treasure Island and the story of Zheng Yi Sao, a Chinese pirate leader who dominated the South China Sea, might just be my favorite pirate/sea novel I’ve read.