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Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean    by Justin Somper order for
by Justin Somper
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Grace and Connor Tempest are the twin children of a lighthouse keeper in Crescent Moon Bay on the East coast of Australia. Their dad regularly sings them to sleep with a rather spooky shanty about 'A ship that carries a crew of damned souls - the demons of the ocean. A ship that has been sailing since time began and will voyage on until the very end of the world ...' Grace is smart, mentally tough and fearless, while Connor is a talented athlete.

When their dad dies suddenly, the twins are offered two options - to be adopted by the self-important banker and his smothering wife, or exploited in the orphanage. So they steal their dad's boat (now owned by the bank) and sail into a raging storm. Their boat flounders and the twins are separated. Connor is rescued by Cheng Li, Deputy Captain on a pirate ship, while Grace is pulled aboard a vessel full of vampirates by Midshipman Lorcan Furey, and held secretly in a cabin, on the orders of the ship's masked captain.

Connor quickly discovers he's well suited to the pirate's life. He learns to use a rapier and makes friends, but never forgets Grace and seeks ways to find her. Grace gradually discovers the nature of the magical ship she's travelling on, and of its fearsome crew and mysterious donors. The captain gives her a vision of her brother, while Connor hears his dad's voice in his head, advising him to be ready to help his sister and to 'Trust the tide.' Then Grace attracts the notice of Sidorio, a vampire whose hunger is not satisfied by the captain's regular Feasts.

Vampirates is an exciting start to this new Demons of the Ocean series, reflecting Cheng Li's advice to Connor that 'It's the journeys that test us to our very core - the journeys that strip the clothes from our back, mess with our minds, and shake our spirits - these are the journeys worth taking in life. They show us who we are.' It will be fascinating to see how Grace and Connor cope with their own continuing journeys in this engaging series for middle schoolers.

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