Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A ship that comes alive at night

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:
Book Trail
Sand's 2007 Reads
Shout Out!
The Reading Tub

6 comments:

  1. I bought this series for my son awhile back. I don't think he's read any though. At the same time I also started him on the Charlie Bone series, and Peter and the Starcatchers. So far, Mom's doing pretty good. He's loved the first of both!!

    I may have to smuggle this one out of his room!

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  2. I think you (and he) will enjoy it when you get to it. I read the first Charlie Bone, and really should reread it and the others that have come out since then. I have Peter and the Starcatchers to listen to - I got it because Jim Dale reads it, and he's such a wonderful storyteller. Have you read those as well? Did you like them?

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  3. Hi, came through via weekly geeks - love your blog!

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  4. I've had my eye on this series for a while. I did suspect that the combination of Vampires and Pirates could only be a good thing...thanks for the confirmation!

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  5. Lol it was only a matter of time before someone decided to mix vampires with pirates!

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  6. Hi, Janicu - Thanks! And thanks for visiting. I'm so behind on my blog visiting (end of semester crunch) - but I'll be by to visit you soon! :-)

    Nymeth - I have to admit I was a bit skeptical of this series at first. It seemed a little bit too much of jumping on the bandwagon of what's immensely popular and cashing in on it. But the other children's librarian at work recommended it to me, and I'm glad I read (listened to) it - it plays with the stereotypes in fun and unusual ways.

    Ladytink - you are absolutely right - and it could have been done in a much less interesting way!

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