Friday, January 7, 2011

The Pirate Vortex: Elizabeth Latimer Pirate Hunter by Deborah Cannon

What a great YA novel! When I was in my teens many years ago, this is exactly the kind of book I'd have been drawn to. As a teenager? Not necessarily, I loved it as a long-in-the-tooth adult. I'm sure my grandchildren will love it, too.

Pirates, adventure, time travel, teen protagonists, what's not to love! Deborah Cannon, you have a wonderful knack of creating a great story with fact amongst your fiction. This book was completely up to date in the present time, and very well researched in the 18th century when pirates ruled the ocean highways and byways.

Elizabeth Latimer, Liz to friends, Lizabeth to younger sister Lulu (Lu), and Pirate Hunter on-line is the main protagonist. Their mother has disappeared while doing ocean archaeology in the Caribbean. Not just ocean archaeology, but searching for clues for her lost husband, following a pirate by the name of Jack Rackham, or Calico Jack. She feels her answers are related to him. She is searching in the 18th century. How did she get there you might well ask. Well, the reason is in the title. There is an anomaly which is much like a vortex/waterspout/whirlpool, and it is sitting right near mother Tess's salvage barge in Nassau. Between Tess and her sister Stephanie (Stevie), they have determined that this vortex shows up every so often, and not always in the same place, but is much like a wormhole.

When Tess disappears, it is suspected that she was caught in the vortex, and taken someplace else. It takes awhile, but it becomes certain that she is in Nassau in the 18th century. When the police are about to give up their search, Liz becomes adamant that she will go find her. She is a top fencer, and is joined by Wang, who was a student of Tess, Lu, who sneaks in along with C.J., their parrot, named for Calico Jack. CJ proves very helpful on the trip as at times he is able to communicate with Liz telepathically, and give her information and warnings. They are also joined by the mysterious Daniel. Nobody knows anything about him, where he is from or maybe what time he is from, but he is an expert swordsman and fencer too.

Liz goes into the vortex, wearing Lu's pocket PC in case connections can be made because Lu is a superb computer genius, and can find information they need very quickly. Fortunately the pocket PC works because Liz is in for a lot of dangerous and terrible conflicts in this century. A lot of realism worked into the plot, chases and risks. When Liz does find Tess, she learns that her mother does not intend to return through this vortex because she is certain she can find their father in this time. She forces Liz and her group to return through the vortex while there is still time, it will be closing within hours. What Liz has learned is that if something isn't restored from/to the 18th century, Tess, Liz, Lulu, and Stevie will cease to exist.

The excitement, feeling of adventure, pirating, time travel, remains through the book keeping the reader happy and wanting more. All agree it is imperative that they should be returned home quickly and may even be helpful in Tess's search. Where she will eventually surface is anyone's guess, all they know is that the vortex moves around and will one day return. I definitely feel the need to know more, just as Liz does. This book wraps you up in chapters and doesn't want to let you go. Fun and fascinating, illuminating, and just which man holds her heart? Wang or Daniel? Or will there be another tossed into the mix. Loved this book!

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