Vampirates: One man's journey into the world of crappy genre lit, part I

The PR tag said it all: "If Pirates are bad and Vampires are worse, then pray you never meet the Vampirates." I was already swooning over the needless capitalization of common nouns, but the portmanteau brilliantly combining "vampire" and "pirates" -- which I could hardly believe nobody had thought of before -- sealed the deal: I had to read this book. And because the whole fun of engaging best/worst forms of camp-entertainment is not actually engaging them, but rather making fun of them later, I'm taking you, dear reader, on the journey.

Right up front, I should say I'm not generally a fan of genre fiction. I read the occasional detective novel, sure, and I can name-drop all sorts of hoity-toity literary journals, but sci-fi has never been my bag, horror leaves me unaffected, and fantasy actually puts me to sleep. So forgive me if I'm not exactly informed on vampire/pirate tropes. That's not really the point. The point is to revel in the awesome silliness that is unabashedly second-rate literature.

So when the word "blood" popped up twice within the first 50 words of the novel, I knew I would not be disappointed. In this installment of Vampirates: Empire of Night (which is apparently the fifth book in its series), by Justin Somper, we tackle the prologue, in which we find our hero, Connor, and his sister, Grace, trapped on separate ships: "They were no more than flies, caught in a steel web," Somper intimates.

Sidorio, Connor's vampire father (it's looking like he's also going to be the villain), is guiding him along some sort of vampire rite of passage that involves drinking blood and giving him three gifts -- the last of which ends on a cliffhanger: "This, this horror (the italics are Somper's, by the way), was truly Sidorio's idea of the best gift of all."

Well, maybe he's just really misunderstood. Either way, Vampirates is just getting started, and it's safe to say I'm hooked.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte