CAPITANA de Cassandra James

Brimming with adventure, romance, danger and just the right amount of mystery, CAPITANA is perfect for fans of the high seas in Adrienne Young’s Fable, the romance of Isabel Ibañez’s Together We Burn, and the enchanting Caraval books by Stephanie Garber.

by Cassandra James
HarperCollins, January 2025
(via Writers House)

Ximena Reale is certain of one thing: the only good pirate is a dead one.

Ximena has trained for eight years to become one of the black-cloaked Cazadores, seafaring hunters who capture the pirates pillaging the Luzan Empire. Although Ximena is the top candidate at La Academia, passing the Royal Examination alone will likely not be enough for a daughter of the notorious Reales—pirate captains who, when Ximena and her wayward sister Marquesa were children, were executed for their crimes against the empire. Ximena scours La Academia’s Archives for something, anything, that might point her towards her one chance of redemption: Gasparilla. The greatest pirate alive. The ultimate prize. A man who may—or may not—exist.

So when a pirate calling himself Gasparilla attacks Luza’s capitol and steals every coin in the Empire’s vaults, also capturing Luza’s queen, Ximena leaps at the chance to catch Gasparilla. She offers to bring the pirate, and their queen, back in exchange for her Cazadoro cloak. This is an offer the Empire accepts, with one catch: there’s only one Cazadoro cloak up for grabs, and she must compete against Dante De León, the pompous and infuriating son of Luza’s High Minster, who will lose his inheritance if he fails to best her.

With their futures on the line, Ximena and Dante set out on a dangerous quest across the Archipelago, led by a turncoat member of Gasparilla’s crew. But no matter how far Ximena sails, her family’s pirate legacy continues to haunt her, and her exposure to a world outside of La Academia leads her to question the very laws she’s always fought to uphold. It all leads her to wonder: is it possible she’s been on the wrong side all along?

Cassandra James recently graduated from Princeton University, where she studied English with a focus on Creative Writing. She is originally from Florida, where she lives with her family of Colombian immigrants and dreams of setting sail. She was inspired to write CAPITANA by the Floridian legend of the pirate captain Gasparilla, and drew from various aspects of pirate history—including the real-life Republic of Pirates which was founded by Blackbeard and others—to create the fictional empire of Luza.

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