Published 25th April 2024 (UK), 14th May (Australia). Available to pre-order now!

Pre-order through your local independent bookshop, or click to order through, Amazon (UK), Amazon (Aus), or order the Waterstone’s special limited edition here.

In a rented room outside Plymouth in 1685, a daughter is born as her half-brother is dying. Her mother makes a decision: Mary will become Mark, and Ma will continue to collect his inheritance money.

Mary’s dual existence as Mark will lead to a role as a footman in a grand house, serving a French mistress; to the navy, learning who to trust and how to navigate by the stars; and to the army and the battlegrounds of Flanders, finding love among the bloodshed and the mud. But none of this will stop Mary yearning for the sea.

Drawn back to the water, Mary must reinvent herself yet again, for a woman aboard a ship is a dangerous thing. This time Mary will become something more dangerous than a woman.

She will become a pirate.

Breathing life into the Golden Age of Piracy, Saltblood is a wild adventure, a treasure trove, weaving an intoxicating tale of gender and survival, passion and loss, journeys and transformation, through the story of Mary Read, one of history’s most remarkable figures.

A gripping tale of one woman’s extraordinary adventures … Saltblood is a triumph of the imagination’

ELODIE HARPER, author of ‘The Wolf Den’ trilogy

‘A ravishing picaresque told with fireworks, finesse and gusto’ 

PAUL LYNCH, author of Prophet Song

‘Saltblood is exquisite. The writing is sumptuous and lyrical, the story fascinating’

LOUISE O’NEILL, author of Asking for It and Idol

‘An absolute treasure trove of a book. Francesca has taken the real story of 18th century female pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonny and woven something startling, fresh and brilliant.’

ANNA MAZZOLA, author of A Clockwork Girl

‘A wonderful tale and so exquisitely told … Master and Commander meets Thelma and Louise’

JAMES OSWALD, author of the ‘Inspector McLean’ series

‘A thrilling, gender-shaking roar of a tale every reader will enjoy’

NEIL BLACKMORE, author of Radical Love