Book Review: Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean

Book Review

Vampirates: Demons of the Ocean

Justin Somper

⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3 stars)

Children’s Lit

All I had to do was read the title and I knew I had to buy this book. I am a lover of all things pirate. And when you throw in vampires too, I thought this book was going to be the most bad-ass thing ever. Sadly, that was not the case.

I will say that the idea of vampire pirates is wicked cool and I think I might use that someday in my own writing. But these were not the kind of vampirates I thought would apear.

The story features boy and girl twins who lose their father, are presented with unwelcome choices for their future and decide to runaway instead. Stealing a boat, they flee town, only to have a storm destroy the boat and leave them separated in the water. Pirates pick up the boy, and vampirates rescue the girl.

The story started off seemingly normal, then appeared to be comically and ridiculously innaccurate about anything at all to do with ships, ship life or pirates. I eventually realized that this must have been done on purpose and, indeed, aimed the book specifically at a very young and innocent audience. Once I realized this, I was better able to appreciate the humour of it. Like when the pirates board a ship in 4-4-8 formation and plan their attack on a blackboard on the ship, as if it’s all a big soccer game. I think I prefer more realistic stuff myself, but kudos to Somper for his imaginative creativity. I think 10-12 year olds would get a big kick out of it.

The pirates are silly, friendly and just about the nicest and least pirate-like pirates ever. As if they’re out of some kids cartoon. They’re very happy and helpful and nothing serious ever really happens to them.

The vampirates themselves were nothing how I pictured. Turns out they’re just a collection of lost souls on a timeless cruise ship, biding their time and hiding out from the world to prevent their bloodthirst from causing too much trouble. They’re generally polite and formal and very kind and not at all monsters, with one mild exception. I found it teasing to begin with, then rather dull in the ultimate delivery.

I think my low rating is a result of my personal disappointment as much as any lacking in the book itself. Given the cover and title, I was expecting something cooler and darker. And there’s nothing on the book itself which says the age range it’s targeted at, so I had no idea it would be for young kids.

Even taking that into account, I’m not sure that the story itself held up; it felt like it was ok in the beginning, then flatlined once they got on their respective ships and never really went anywhere after. I thought that the plot unfortunately dragged on and the ‘climax’ was only in the final few pages. There are more books in the series though, so maybe more will happen there. And, for a young reader, it would be fun just being immersed in Somper’s world in its own right, so maybe the plot doesn’t have to do much quite yet.

This book might be a good starting point for little kids who like pirates, but I’d move on to Treasure Island for something cooler.

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