Sunday, March 20, 2016

Demons of the Ocean

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean
by Justin Somper
Recommended Ages: 13+

The Tempest twins, Grace and Connor, live some 500 years in our future, a time (I gather) when sea levels have risen, and most of the world is covered by water. Orphaned at age 14 by a lighthouse keeper who was able to leave them little more than the memory of a sea chanty he used to send them to sleep - a morbid little ditty about pirates who are also vampires - they run away to sea and are soon separated by storm and shipwreck.

Athletic Connor gets rescued by a band of vanilla, non-vampire pirates led by the rascally Molucco Wrathe, who lives by the old-fashioned pirate creed of "a short life, but a jolly one." Connor soon proves himself a prodigy of piracy, with an instinctive grasp of swordplay and the qualities of resourcefulness and team-work that suggest a great future in the pirate business. His only reservations are a qualm about stealing and dealing death and mayhem, a certain uneasiness about Wrathe's snake familiar Scrimshaw, and the desperate hope, growing into a nagging certainty, that Grace is still out there, surviving somehow on the very Vampirate ship about which their father sang to them.

Tough and intelligent Grace, meanwhile, has indeed been pulled out of the drink, in her case by an undead dreamboat named Lorcan Furey. He vows to protect her from the shipload of bloodsucking fiends on which he has taken refuge after 600 years of wandering the earth. Actually the Vampirates aren't such a bad lot. Their captain is an eerie figure who wears a mask, doesn't drink blood, and seems to see everything. In spite of his mysterious powers, however, the Vampirate skipper cannot prevent one Lieutenant Sidorio, who was as much a monster before he turned, from trying to sate his insatiable thirst on her.

While the twins wonder whether they will ever be together again, the very thing that brings them together may also be the spark that lights a world-changing conflict. It's only suggested in this book - the Vampirate captain whispering in Grace's mind, "So it ends. So it begins" - but a sneak peek at the book-jacket summaries of its sequels bears that out.

This is Book 1 of the Vampirates sequence, which comprises six novels and a short story written for World Book Day 2007. The next book in the series is Tide of Terror. British based author Somper also wrote the young-adult thriller Allies & Assassins and its sequel, A Conspiracy of Princes. According to this book's biographical blurb, Somper took sword-fighting lessons to prepare for writing this book, and he operates a children's creative consultancy. I'm not sure what that is, but it sounds cool.

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