Saltwater Vampires

I have finally got around to reading Kirsty Eager’s second novel, Saltwater Vampires. Eager won the Victorian Premier’s Award for Young Adult fiction last year with a sensational read titled Raw Blue (mentioned in this review by me in 2009).

As with Raw Blue, Saltwater Vampires includes a lot of beautiful writing about the ocean and waves and surfing. It also includes three storylines which, of course, all end up in one and yes, vampires. Now, I haven’t read many other vampire books. I didn’t read the Ann Rice when I was a teenager, I haven’t read Twilight (or seen the films), and Dracula has never figured on my to read list. But I have read Charlaine Harris’ Sooki Stackhouse series and am thoroughly obsessed with True Blood, the television adaptation. And in some ways, Saltwater Vampires is similar to the Sooki Stackhouse series. It’s a burgeoning sexy read (burgeoning because the main characters are all under 17 years old), it’s got some really creepy vampires and the ‘evil’ is out of this world but firmly embedded in it.

With the wreck of the Batavia in 1629 as the starting point of the insidious creepiness, modern day Amsterdam as the Piravem meet to figure out what to do with the four ‘mutineers’ from the Batavia who have existed in Australia for 400 years and have re-surfaced to perform some act that will increase their powers astronomically, and four school friends who are facing their own human difficulties of growing up but will soon face death, immortality and loss head on, there is almost too much story in the novel – and almost too much story in this sentence. But I think that’s probably the only criticism I have of the book.

While Raw Blue is a much more nuanced book, the gradations of character are all still aplenty in Saltwater Vampires and the story moves along at a cracking pace, so, much so that I couldn’t really put it down until I knew what, how and who (and just how you can show a vampire their own immortality).

Eager is a great storyteller and one that should be read widely. She is able to place Australian culture centre stage without falling into stereotype or cliche and her writing of the ocean and surfing in particular is refreshingly real and unsentimental. Saltwater Vampires is a must-read for all of you who have ‘done’ the Twilight, the Vampire Diaries, the Vampire Academy etc…it’s fun and silly, a bit scary, a bit sexy and quite a bit Australian. And the girls can really surf.

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