Fourteen-year-old twins Connor and Grace live with their father in the lighthouse of a seaside town in the year 2505. The twins have never known their mother, and despite Grace's keen intelligence and Connor's skill at sports, the two children have never quite managed to fit in with the other townspeople. They do feel at home in the lighthouse, with their father, though. So when he dies, leaving behind nothing but debts, the twins' world shatters.
In the days following the funeral, the twins stick together. They comfort themselves with happy memories of their father, and with the knowledge that at least they still have each other. Sometimes they sing an old sea shanty about Vampirates, a song their father used to sing to comfort them - even though it's about terrifying vampire pirates, it reminds them that things could be much, much worse.
Penniless, they have two choices: to live with the rich bank manager and his wife, who are childless - and who would treat them like pets, dress-up dolls to order about and control as they wished - or the orphanage. The twins determine on a third choice - they sneak aboard their old boat - which is no longer theirs - and sail away from town. They intend to sail up the coast and find work, but when their ship is capsized by a sudden storm, Connor and Grace fall overboard and nearly drown.
Connor is rescued by a passing pirate ship, and Grace is rescued by a ship of another kind altogether - although she does not realize it at first. Connor is treated well by the pirates on his ship, but they think his stubborn belief that his sister is alive - that he, in fact, caught a glimpse of a legendary vampirate ship and must rescue her as soon as possible, is a result of a hallucination. Grace is frantic that her brother has died, but finds herself locked in a room on a very strange ship, and is determined to discover the truth of her situation.
Grace and Connor are brave and resourceful, and their concern for each other is the motivation behind all their decisions. Connor's willingness to believe in the unbelievable enables him to move on after so many horrible things have befallen him. Grace's willingness to see beyond the surface appearance of things enables her to make the best of a terrifying situation. This is a promising beginning to an exciting series; it has a satisfying conclusion yet leaves a few strands nicely unraveled so readers will be anxious to read about the twins' further adventures.
I listened to this book on CD, and it was a very good read-aloud. Daniel Philpot did a great job creating a creepy atmosphere and giving characters their own voices. I particularly enjoyed the sea shanty he sang - I would have had to make up my own tune had I read the book. As it is I've had the song stuck in my head for the past few days! I'll tell you a tale of Vampirates, a tale as old as true...
Books in the Vampirates series:
1. Demons of the Ocean
2. Tide of Terror
3. Blood Captain
Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean (#1 in the Vampirates series) by Justin Somper; narrated by Daniel Philpott (Recorded Books, 2006)
Also reviewed at:
Sand's 2007 Reads
The Reading Tub