Author Justin Somper
First Published: 2006
This is the second book of the Vampirates series and I’d ask you to note that whilst the review will not be too spoiler heavy for this volume it will probably massively spoil the first volume, Demons of the Ocean. Please also note that this is a younger readers book.
At the end of volume one we saw Connor Tempest, along with the pirates of the Wraith, “rescue” his twin sister, Grace, from the vampirates ship. This book begins after a small amount of time has passed and we discover that Mistress Li has left the ship to teach at the Pirate Academy. The pirates are about to raid a ship and Connor, Bart and their friend Jez are part of the attack. However it is a trap and the only way the pirates can escape is by a duel to the death. Jez takes up the challenge and dies (well he hadn’t been in volume one) and is afforded a burial at sea.
At the wake Mistress Li arranges, via Grace’s worry for Connor’s safety, for the twins to visit the Academy, with the hope that Connor will remain there. Meanwhile Grace is fearful for her friends on the vampirates ship’s safety and starts to visit them in spirit form. She discovers that, since the Captain expelled rogue vampire Sidorio, rebellion has been in the air on the ship with the vampires demanding more than can be safely offered by their donors.
Sidorio has found Jez’s coffin floating in the ocean and brought the former pirate back to life as a vampire…
Like the first book this is a fairly easy read, for an adult, but with enough to keep both adult and younger reader interested. Again, like the first book, Somper skilfully avoids too much graphic detail but gives enough to allow imagination to run with the scenarios. The upshot of this is that we discover that vampires are created by a passing of energy rather than by a trading of blood. Not an unused concept in adult genre fiction and it did mean that Sidorio could raise an already passed corpse. I also found it interesting that Connor, when cryptically warned that Jez is now a vampire, is told, “He is not as he appears – only an echo.” This indicates that though vampires might have the physical shape and memories of their mortal selves they are not what they were, not only because of the whole undead, blood drinking malarkey, but perhaps because of their personality, their emotions or even their soul – that is a concept, however, that Somper has yet to explore fully.
The biggest failing of this volume, to me, was that most of the action took place at the Academy – this of course meant that we had a lot less vampire action – though this came in the form of both the rebel vampires and life aboard the vampirate ship. Whilst this was obviously where Somper wished to go in a story sense, for someone reading it for the vampires, rather than the pirate action, this proved to be slightly to the book’s detriment. The plot and counter plot between the pirates does prove interesting however and, at the end of the volume, we actually discover the name of the vampirate ship.
For a score I’m giving this 6.5 out of 10, a slight drop in points from volume one – as the reviews here are concerned with vampires and this has less vampiric content. It is still, however, a fine sequel and is shaping up to be an excellent series for the kids.
Again, I’ll point out that the series has a homepage.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Author Justin Somper