I was in the mood for something frivolous, easy and light, and this was exactly right. It's also well-written, enviably well-paced, and witty.
It's 2505 (though in fact there doesn't seem much evidence of it being The Future, or any special reason why it should be). Twins Connor and Grace Tempest are brought up by their reclusive lighthouse-keeper father, but when he dies they flee orphanage and adoption in favour of an escape by boat. Best-laid plans, etc: a storm comes up, their boat is wrecked and the two are separated.
Connor ends up on the Diablo, an old-fashioned pirate ship (the captain wears a blue velvet frock-coat and has a snake in his hair) with some management issues. First Mate Cheng Li is a graduate of the Pirate Academy and has all sorts of peculiar notions about rules (but they're more guidelines) and proper pirate behaviour. Conorr takes to her anyway, though his other friends are more traditionally piratical.
Grace is pulled from the water by a midshipman on the infamous Vampirates ship (what it says on the tin: there's an old sea shanty about pirates and vampires which the twins' father used to sing to them: if pirates are danger and vampires are death, etc). She's treated well, makes friends with the figurehead (who's only a figurehead by day: at night she is Miss Darcy Flotsam), and learns some of the history of the crew -- including Sidorio, who in life was one of the pirates who captured Caesar.
There's a happy ending which sets the scene for the next book -- in fact it's a bit of a cliffhanger, which is slightly annoying.
The writing is nice: well-paced, nice use of metaphor (and none of it hammered home), plenty of unresolved mysteries, and some really interesting characters. Suspect this is aimed at teenagers: there's drinking, smoking and what looks suspiciously like a brothel.
I hate to say it, but:
If you liked Pirates of the Caribbean, you'll like this book.
reposted here from LJ in order to keep all my reviews in one place