Tuesday, August 30, 2011

REVIEW: Saltwater Vampires by Kirsty Eagar + GIVEAWAY

Saltwater Vampires
by Kirsty Eagar (website)
Released on 08.30.2010
372 pages
Penguin Books Australia
Nominations: Shortlisted for the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards - Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature
Source: author, who did not require a review, but I liked it so I gave it one anyway :)

He looked to the sky, praying for rain, a downpour, some sign from the heavens that he should refuse the abomination contained in that flask. But all he saw was the bloated white face of the moon smiling down on him …

And the sky around it was cold and clear and black …

They made their circle of blood. And only the moon witnessed the slaughter that followed.

For Jamie Mackie, summer holidays in the coastal town of Rocky Head mean surfing, making money, and good times at the local music festival. But this year, vampires are on the festival’s line-up … fulfilling a pact made on the wreck of the Batavia, four hundred years ago. If their plans succeed, nobody in Rocky Head will survive to see out the new year.

Page-turning and suspenseful, Saltwater Vampires is a distinctly Australian vampire thriller.

REVIEW: If you look for your vamp lit with accessible supes, the kind who can be redeemed with luuurve and are actually misunderstood creatures, you got the wrong book here.  Kirsty Eagar's vamps are made of equal parts evil ambition and diabolical craftiness.  

That's not to say there isn't redemption.  But it's not where you think it would be in a paranormal tale, nor is it received with everything folded up neat and even.  No, this is a tale of choice and consequence, of truth and action, with an actual historical incident as its foundation and group of friends as its heart.  There are three plots to the story that are woven together:

  • four rouge vampires who made a pact 400 years ago are planning a new, evil event
  • a vampire apprentice from a society in Holland races against time to find the four, but for what reasons?
  • a once-upon-a-time group of friends, still connected but splintered and strained, comes together to save two of their own
The first two are marvelously intertwined - I had the same feeling reading it as I did The DaVinci Code with its historical emphasis blooming into modern mystery.  The supernatural factor, the demand for secrecy,  and the very nerve-wracking feeling that every person is most sincerely out for only personal gain added a true level of creepy suspense - when the synopsis says thriller, it means it.  That's not to say that we don't see evil portrayed in other YA; it's simply that in this book there is a level of detached sophistication in certain characters which makes their actions entirely believable and extremely cold-blooded.  I more than once thought that this is a book that adults, particularly ones who enjoy thrillers, would find intriguing, as well.

Which is why I was delighted to find the story of 15-year old Jamie and his friends to be not only seamlessly ingrained around the vampiric past and present, but also provided an emotional core not always present in thrillers.  Usually, we find the suspense in thrillers to mimic the emotion we would otherwise miss, but here we have a former group of friends whose ties have been skewered through various means, but must make their way around their own past to be a united front in the present.  And they are a wonderful, entirely believable group of friends - their affection for each other is authentic, as are the hurt feelings that keep them apart.  They each are wonderfully written characters, and we get to know them, their flaws, desires, bravery and fears in great detail.  The interaction between them is natural and tangible, whether it's filled with anger or affection.  They have a lot to deal with, particularly as a tragedy that really tour them from each other is recent and very much present.  And here is something I particularly love about Eagar's writing: she really lets her characters feel the full weight of actions rendered and choices made.  There is no easy peace here, no neatly tied up resolution; what's given are the decisions one can live with, and the consequences a person has to live through.  This just as easily could have been a book without the supernatural element and been about friends falling apart and coming together again.  The tying in of historical fact and mythical evil does not diminish this aspect of the book, but makes Saltwater Vampires a unique, noteworthy and very welcome addition to YA paranormal.

For more on the historical facts behind the wreck of the Batavia, go here.

Also be sure to check out Missie at The Unread Reader's review of Saltwater Vampires, also posted today!  She is also giving away a SIGNED copy (my giveaway is for an unsigned copy :)  Kirsty Eagar's books are only available for purchase in Australia, so don't miss your chance to enter any of the great giveaways this week!


"He broke into a slow smile, then laughed, thinking it was crazy and that's exactly why they should do it.  Don't die wondering, right?"
-page 187

"It was something they'd done a thousand times before.  If Jamie went surfing with a mate and paddled in first, he always took time for that final wave.  And there was something so familiar in the ritual that for a moment he felt like everything was right.

He felt forgiven."
-page 188

"Vampire Die Hard.  Yippee-ki-yay, bloodsucker!"
-page 215

"They stared at each other for a long time.  The rest of the world had gone somewhere else and everything that needed to be said was being said without talking.  And Jamie knew how much he'd lost."
-page 298


This is for an unsigned copy of Saltwater Vampires by Kirsty Eagar.  Open to U.S. & Canadian mailing addresses.

To enter fill out this form.

Points are as follows:

  • 1 point for entering
  • 2 points for leaving a comment
  • 3 points for tweeting (must leave direct link)
  • 4 points for posting a Kirsty Eagar Appreciation Week button (see below) -OR- placing 'The Case for Carly' button on your blog (see right side bar).
The deadline for entering is Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 at Noon, E.S.T.  Winner will be picked via random.org and announced on Thursday, September 8th, 2011.  Good luck!

For more reviews on Saltwater Vampires, please visit its GoodReads page.


  1. Another chance to win an Eagar book I love Eagar Appreciation week. Keeping my fingers crossed that I am lucky enough win. Otherwise I may just need to relocate to Australia. Thanks!

  2. OMG! Looks awesome! Thanks so much1 :)

  3. I've been wanting to read this ever since I read Raw Blue and fell in love with all things Kirsty, so count me in! This week is amazing so far, you and Nic and Kirsty did such an impressive job putting it together! Thanks for the chance to win Linds:)

  4. I love the sound of the friendship angle of the story, with all the character connections... sounds intriguing!

    Thanks for the giveaway. =)

  5. "This just as easily could have been a book without the supernatural element and been about friends falling apart and coming together again."

    YES! Talk about your friendships that are tested. The 'he felt forgiven' line killed me. And Tanner's old man wisdom was pretty awesome too. And I lurved Willem. And the tie to history... yeah, it turned out to be freaking brilliant.

  6. A vampire book that reminds you of the Da Vinci Code? I'm in! Haven't heard of this one before, but it's now on my list. Thanks for the great review!

  7. I love that trailer! It scares the beejeebees out of me, but I love it! Great review! I do think one thing missing from adult thrillers that I find in YA novels in the emotion. There is fear and excitement in an adult thriller, but in a YA thriller, there is often a relationship going on along with the thriller part of it. I think it makes a big difference. I like it better because the YA thrillers don't seem so cookie cutter. Good point you made.


  8. @Jan - Fingers crossed for you - we will have more opportunities for you to enter for books during the rest of the week, too!

    @Ammy Belle - No problem!

    @Jenny - Awwww, thanks, Jenny! We were so happy that you could participate! If you don't win, I'll be happy to loan you my copy. It's definitely different that RB, but still great - sort of a cross between The Lost Boys, The Goonies, with a healthy dash of bittersweet, coming-of-age. Man, I should have added that in the review ***muttermuttermutter***.

    @Ashley - It's a GREAT story about friendship and how things change. . . really great look at that!

    @Missie - That line killed me, too! Man, I loved Jamie something bad. AND WILLEM - hahaha, never discount the kids who sit alone in the cafeteria - they turn out to be the best of the bunch!

    @Annette - word, Annette - it really has the feel during the Holland scenes.

    @Heather - I love the trailer, too! And I agree on the emotion. I read this while I was in St. Martin, so I had the perfect setting, but I was also reading JD Robb's 'Naked in Death' at the same time to, and the likeness just stood out to me.

    Good luck, everyone!


  9. This quote right here is awesome... "Vampire Die Hard. Yippee-ki-yay, bloodsucker!"-page 215

    Thanks for sharing the trailer as well! I hadn't seen it yet! When I read Saltwater Vampires I'm going to have to read about Batavia beforehand :)

  10. This sounds like such a good character book. Oh yes, I love those. Between you and Missie... I have really been wanting this book!

  11. Now, this is a book I can give to people who like the old school, series vampire novels. I always have a rough time finding them in YA lit so this one sounds perfect. Thanks for a great review and giveaway, Linds!

  12. Awesome review Linds! I agree the characters were amazing in this story :)

  13. Great review and giveaway, Linds! This one sounds like a vampire story I could get behind and I like that Jamie's story is integrated with the vampires' seamlessly. I'm off find out more about Batavia now :)

  14. @Jacinda - I love history, so please do! I don't think it's abso necessary to read the book, but it does give it a good background and understanding.

    @Melissa - Missie & I are good like that :)

    @Rummanh - No problem! These are definitely eeeeeeevil vamps!

    @Nic - thanks Nic! Cant' wait to read your review!

    @ACG - Happy historical sleuthing!


  15. I can't even tell you how badly I want to read this book! US publishers seriously need to pick up Eagar's books so we can get them here. Thanks again for hosting a great giveaway!

  16. I really, really, want this one. You are so lucky to have read it girl!

  17. (clapping hands happily)...yay! Evil vampires! This sounds so good and I love that it reminded you of the DaVinci Code and I love history too. Thank you for the giveaway.

  18. Great review, thanks! Cold-hearted vampires = definitely up my alley. And I would have guessed this one WAS for adults, but, hey, it just means YA literature is awesome. :)

  19. This sounds marvelous - thanks for the chance to win it!

  20. Thanks for the spotlight on this!

  21. @Amnada - glad to host one! I hope they find their way to the States soon!

    @Kara - Oh, I know! It's a fab read!

    @MR - I think you'll like this one, then.

    @Jenn - I think it's one that a lot different people who like a classic paranormal thirller can enjoy.

    @Pabkins - No problem!

    @Vivien - my pleasure!


  22. I Love Vampire books i have this on my goodreads list. It sounds so good.Pleas enter me in the giveaway. I am having trouble posting with google so i am going with anonymous. Thanks Joannie jscddmj[at]aol[dot]com

  23. OMG this cover scares the shizz out of me. And for some reason I've always read this cover as Salty Vampires. Like, hmm, can I get some more salt on my vampire, please? Yeah, I know.

    Anyhoo, great review in making me want to read the book EVEN MORE.

    Also, the trailer? Bring on the creepy!