Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean

Justin Somper, Author . Little, Brown $15.99 (330p) ISBN 978-0-316-01373-4

Set in the 26th century on Australia's Crescent Moon Bay, Somper's portmanteau of two fiction favorites—pirates and vampires—is a gleefully quick read. When lighthouse keeper Dexter Tempest passes away, heavily laden with debt, his 14-year-old twin children, Connor and Grace, find themselves suddenly homeless. The teens cannot bear the offer of sanctuary from the town's wealthy bank manager ("I'd rather die," says Connor), so they steal their father's boat and cast out to sea. A storm quickly dashes their vessel, and Connor is rescued by a passing pirate ship. Grace has been rescued, too, but by the Vampirate ship, "a dark ship that has been sailing through all eternity," the topic of a beloved shanty the twins' father always sang to them. The narrative alternates between the two ships, painting a vivid picture of life on a pirate ship while simultaneously stretching and teasing out the mystery of the vampirates for much of the book. Grace eventually meets the captain of her ship, an elusive figure who lets slip that he may have known their father—and later learns that she is to be the ship's new "donor." Somper deftly draws parallels to the real world—its hungers, its sicknesses, its gluttony—with his fascinating vampire captain, who imposes a strict regimen of "take only the blood you need" on his crew, ensuring that the donors remain healthy, too. An enigmatic conclusion leaves the galley door wide open for sequels. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/30/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Genre: Children's
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