Wednesday, December 6, 2006

'Hunters of the Dark Sea' by Mel Odom

ISBN: 0765304805
Format: Hardcover, 400pp
Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Price: $

Hunters of the Dark Sea is set the Pacific ocean in 1813, when the ocean is crawling with pirates and privateers. Whaling ships also cross the wide blue expanses hunting the beasts not only for the blubber that is needed for oil lamps but also for the bone that is used for buttons and ladies' hoop skirts. Sometimes the whaling ships and the pirates paths' cross, with dangerous consequences.

Ethan Swain is the first mate on the whaling ship Reliant. A good man with a good heart he keeps the crew's best interests in mind. He is what holds the crew together. The ship is captained by Captain Folger, who has a close eye on the profit margin and cares little about the men under him and even less about Ethan. We learn early on that Ethan is a man with a dark past and that the Captain is always looking for a way to undermine him.

On the Brown-Eyed Sue, in another part of the Pacific Ocean, Professor Bullock and his daughter Katharine are searching for something that the natives of Easter Island call "Death-in-the-Water." The natives claim that it has the mask of a whale, but is not actually a whale. The Professor finds a man washed up on the shore and views first-hand the horrible damage that Death-in-the-Water deals to its prey; right before the Professor’s eyes the man that he tries to save liquefies from the venom that the monster has injected him with.

When an unknown ship pulls into harbor close to the Brown-Eyed Sue, most of her crew welcome the chance to meet the new people, even though they are aware of the danger. Only pirates, privateers, and scientist frequent these waters but the crew welcomes the chance to trade supplies and upgrade their stores.

The Sunfisher is captained by the seemingly well-mannered Captain McAfee, who quickly shows his true colors. Brown-Eyed Sue escapes in the fog only to have the Sunfisher coming up fast behind her.

All three ships are hunting and being hunted. The Reliant and her crew are hunting whales, the Brown-Eyed Sue is hunting the monster, and the Sunfisher is on the look out for a quick way to make a profit. Each ship has deadly encounters with the monster that is hunting them through the ocean.

When Captain Folger of the Reliant lets greed get the better of him, he places his entire crew, as well as his ship, at the mercy of the monster. Ethan battles to save the men as well as the ship, fighting the weather and the monster, determined to make it through alive.

Hunters of the Dark Sea is vividly written and the images drawn by Mel Odom are clear and precise. I was glued to the book as Reliant tossed on an angry sea, the wind and lightning lashing around the sails. Horror gripped my stomach as the monster claims victim after victim and Ethan narrowly escapes. It was a great adventure filled with action and suspense; this a book that once you pick it up you just can't put it down until you have finished.

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