||September 15, 2009
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When teen fencing champ Elizabeth Latimer's mother mysteriously disappears during an underwater salvage operation, she finds herself in the pirate past, forced to rescue her pirate ancestors Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny from the clutches of the governor.
Teen fencing champ, Elizabeth Latimer, is a girl of her times. Armed with the latest palm computer, she leaps into an oceanic vortex in pursuit of Daniel, an oh-so-awesome pirate. He knows the whereabouts of her missing marine archaeologist mom, but instead of reuniting them, he leads her into an impossible mission—to help the pirate Calico Jack Rackham rescue his girlfriend Anne Bonny.
Like A Champion, Not Like A Wench!
Elizabeth Latimer was a pirate hunter. She wasn’t always a pirate hunter. But even before she hunted pirates, she was a freakishly awesome fencer. She was also an expert scuba diver and a seasoned catboat sailor. She spoke four languages: English, French, Chinese and Spanish, and she had an uncanny telepathy with animals.
Her best friends were her fourteen-year-old sister, Lulu, who just happened to be a computer brainiac, and a talking parrot named CJ, which was short for Calico Jack. Her mom was the famous Tess Rackham, adventurer and treasure hunter bar none. Tess dug out pirate shipwrecks, salvaged cargoes and hocked the most valuable stuff to collectors. Four years ago, she was a prof at the University of Victoria where she researched sunken ships and taught a course called the Archaeology of Piracy. But then her husband, John Latimer, died. He was a fanatic of pirate history, a builder of model pirate ships and a sailing pro. He was also Elizabeth’s dad. He drowned in a sailing accident and Elizabeth never went sailing again.
Elizabeth had no choice but to become a pirate hunter because Elizabeth, or Liz, as she preferred to be called, had the curse of pirates in her blood. But, in the twenty-first century, who, in their right mind, wanted to be a pirate hunter? Her supreme formula for life was to be an economics/commerce major and work in a bank when she finished school. She would then marry a lawyer and have a grand ordinary life, extraordinaire. It would be a life where parrots didn’t cuss and fourteen-year-old sisters didn’t hack into their school’s computers, where moms didn’t hunt treasure and dads didn’t drown while sailing. And animals couldn’t read her mind.
But the day her dad died—four years ago—Liz knew the pirate curse was there to stay. So, she had to do something to remind herself of why John Latimer died. She painted one nail, her lefthand thumb, and she painted it blood red. In the centre of her thumbnail, on the bloody background, she drew a skull and crossbones in black ink. Liz knew that what had consumed her parents might, one day, consume her, too. And crying great big cartoon tears wouldn’t change a thing. It was only a matter of time . . . That time came, on a cool spring morning, around seven a.m., when Elizabeth Latimer entered the University of Victoria’s gymnasium door.
On the fencing piste, Liz’s opponent was waiting for her, strutting his stuff. He had a cool, cocky attitude, a lean, powerful build and the spin-worthiness of a dancer.
Liz drew on her protective glove with its white gauntlet and tested her sword hand’s grip. She waltzed onto the fencing piste and rolled her eyes. In answer, her opponent flexed his foil as though it were a cutlass. She snorted. Who did he think he was? Captain Jack Sparrow? Unlike her, he already wore his face mask. He wasn’t supposed to wear his mask until they were both in the start position. They hadn’t yet begun the bout and already he was BTR.
Well, if he wanted to break the rules, she would teach him some. She fastened her mask to the protective bib at her throat. She plugged the body wires attached to her form-fitting lamé jacket into the spools connected to the electronic scoring box and indicated for him to do the same. He hesitated for a second. She waited, then raised her hands in a ‘What gives?’ gesture.
They had no referee. Laura Baeker, the fencing coach, wasn’t due to arrive for another half-hour. He was required to hook himself up. Without a ref, it was the only way to keep score.
“What’s the matter?” she said, irritably. “Plug yourself in.”
He looked down at the complex set of wires attached to the special conducting cloth that made up his jacket, then turned his eyes to her. His expression was concealed behind the mask.
She rolled her eyes, reiterated, “You got a problem?”
He shook his head, mimed her act of plugging in the wires, then stood back.
Elizabeth tested the equipment against her lamé jacket which conducted the electronic signals. Lights flashed from ‘the box’ and she set the scoreboard to zero. She retreated to her en-guarde line and watched her opponent find his.
Okay, mystery boy. Let’s see what you’ve got. She saluted him and he returned the gesture. She raised her foil and waited for the electronic voice to shout “Play!” She glared at him through her mask. He was tall and limber and deflected her blows with the sass of Captain Jack.
The floor of the narrow fencing piste pounded with the shuffling of their feet. He lunged and she parried, feeling the sting of his foil. His dizzying footwork was priceless. Where had he learned footwork like that? He had superior balance, speed and athleticism. The way he accelerated, decelerated and switched directions had her dancing at a cataclysmic pace.
They fenced for three minutes, then some lights flashed from the box and the electronic ref shouted “Halt.” The points sprang onto the monitor. Liz ground her teeth, stamped her foot in disappointment and returned to her en-guarde line. “Play!” the electronic ref shouted.
The early morning sun shot through the gym windows, blinding her for a second. She blinked, lunged. Somewhere in the bleachers a voice shrieked as Liz was forced off-bounds. Her concentration smashed, Liz swung around. Her sister, the only spectator she could see, waved.
When had Lulu snuck in here? It was seven o’clock in the morning. She should be at home getting ready for school.
“You want to be a champion?” her opponent mocked. “Then fight like a champion, not like a wench!”
Wench? Liz spun away from glaring at her sister through her mask and focussed hard on her attack. She missed, and her opponent stabbed her in the ribs. Her protective chest shield took the crux of the blow, but before she could strike, he jabbed her again.
“No fair,” Elizabeth shouted. “That’s illegal. That was a double hit.”
The boy laughed.
Elizabeth snapped off her mask, daring the boy to reveal his face. “Just who do you think you are screwing with the rules like that?”
The boy jerked up his mask and smiled at her. The first thing she noticed was an earring shaped like a flying dagger hanging from his left ear.
“Where I come from, lady,” he said, “if you pay too much attention to rules, you die.”
Elizabeth glared. “And just where do you come from? The Black Pearl? Do you even go to school here? If not, you should know that this gym is only open to UVic students and not to any old riffraff from off the street.”
The strange boy unsnapped his kevlar bib and dangled it from his hand together with his mask. “May I proffer some advice, Ms. Latimer,” he said. “If you don’t want to die—and in the eighteenth century you would have died fighting like that—you must not allow yourself to be distracted so easily.”
Elizabeth sucked in a breath. Her gloved sword hand pressed against the guard of her competition class weapon. She trembled. The eighteenth century? Was he in her Archaeology of Piracy course? She scowled. She didn’t remember ever seeing him in class. Either this boy was hopped up on goofballs or he was a psycho would-be pirate.
He smiled again as he noticed her effort to keep from shoving her foil into his chest. “Excellent,” he said. “A polished swordsman never lets anger control a fight.”
He was oddly good-looking. He was in his late teens like her. Or maybe even older. His hair was shoulder length and tied in a pony tail with a leather cord. His complexion was a sunny brown and his chin had a hint of stubble. His eyes were sea blue. They had a faraway look in them like his mind was elsewhere. Like on a schooner maybe. In a word, he seemed otherworldly. The earring made him seem other-oddly. And although that made absolutely no sense whatsoever, it was the only way she could describe him.
“This is my school and my gym. I am the reigning women’s champ for this university and you’re interfering with my practice.” She planted her hands on her hips, still holding the foil by its grip. Was she pissed off at him because he was a better fencer than her or was she just plain pissed off?
“How do you know my name?” she demanded.
He pointed to the chalkboard. “It is listed on the roster.”
Elizabeth had arrived at practice too late to see who Laura had teamed her up with. She squinted at the chalkboard and saw her name next to Andrea Hamilton. “Obviously, you are not Andrea. Who are you?” she asked.
He made a bow and swept the mask down cavalierly as though it were a stylish hat. “My name is Daniel Corker.”
“I’ve never seen you here before,” Elizabeth said.
“That is because I have never been here before,” he answered.
“You talk funny,” Elizabeth’s sister said, walking up to where the two of them stood. “Are you from England?”
Liz had forgotten all about Lulu. She swung to face her sister. “Lu, what are you doing here? You should be in school.”
“She is also in school?” Daniel said, sounding surprised.
Elizabeth felt like running an inch of steel into his gut just to wake him up. She couldn’t even begin to interpret what he meant by that question. “Of course, she’s in school. At least she should be.” Liz turned and gave her younger sister an accusing stare. Lulu ignored Liz’s scolding, fiddled with her camera phone and aimed it at Daniel Corker.
“What, pray tell, is that?” he asked.
“Fido. Smile.” Lulu shot his picture and showed it to him.
He blinked and stepped backward.
“What’s the matter, Daniel?” Liz asked, suddenly concerned.
Daniel looked like he was going to barf. He turned, ripped the wires from his ballistic lamé jacket, and quicker than one of the pet bunnies that overran the campus grounds, he bolted from the gym.
“Whoa, what was that all about?” Lulu asked.
Elizabeth scratched her head and undid the oversized clip that held her wave of sun-kissed brown hair in place. She unplugged herself from the scoring box. “Stay here,” she told Lu. Liz ran outside just in time to see Daniel Corker cross the street and disappear behind a truck. Liz tightened her lips, turned back to the gym and saw Lulu outside the gymnasium doors.
“Come on,” Liz said. She shoved Lu ahead of her. “I’ll shower, then drive you to school.”
“Wait, Lizabeth. This came for you.” Lu always called Liz ‘Lizabeth.’ Lulu stopped just inside the gym. She showed Liz the text she had on her phone. It was sent to Pirate Hunter via Rebel Goddess from Cal Sorensen. Pirate Hunter was a screen name Liz used to annoy their mother, Tess.
Liz hesitated. Cal Sorensen was Tess’s business partner. Their latest salvage project had taken them to Nassau on New Providence in the Bahamas. Tess had been there for three months, leaving Liz at home to look after Lulu and Calico Jack.
A message from Cal couldn’t be good. If Tess wanted to tell them something, she would get in touch with them herself. Liz wished Lulu wasn’t here and that she had her own phone with her right now. Liz had switched off her phone before the fencing bout and had buried it in her pack in the women’s locker room. She hadn’t looked at any of her messages since yesterday.
Liz exhaled, read the text on Lu’s phone. It said to check her e-mail.
She frowned. Should she wait until she got home before reading her e-mail? Lulu stared at her curiously. No, Liz decided. Lu could handle bad news.
Lulu passed Liz her camera phone. Liz accessed the e-mail on her home computer through Lulu’s phone and almost had a heart attack when she read Cal’s message.
“What’s wrong?” Lulu asked.
“It’s Tess. She’s missing.”
Lulu’s eyes grew huge. “What do you mean she’s missing, and why didn’t Cal mention that to me in his text?”
“He couldn’t mention it,” Liz said. “He didn’t know how you’d react.”
Lu snorted. “I’d totally react exactly the same way you’re reacting. What a WOMBAT.”
Elizabeth didn’t comment. She was inclined to agree. Cal Sorensen was a waste of money, brains and time. But if their mother wanted a partner who knew zilch about teenaged girls, no less how to text them, who were they to object?
Lulu sighed. “She’s probably just jerking the poor goon around. You know how Tess is.”
Elizabeth pursed her lips. But this sounded serious. She’d have to skip her classes this morning and get the rest of the story. “You’re going to school. I’ll find out what’s happened and come to get you at lunchtime,” Liz said, returning Lu’s phone to her.
“No,” Lulu said. “She’s my mother too.”
“Fine. Just don’t say anything when I talk to him. I’m going to call him on my iPhone. Then I’ll go and see Stevie. She’s good buds with Cal.”
Stevie was Stephanie Rackham, their twenty-one-year-old cousin and Tess’s niece.
Elizabeth started to strip off her white ballistic fencing jacket as she walked toward the women’s locker room. Lulu followed, fiddling with her camera phone. Elizabeth swung open the doors to the smell of BO and steam. She went to her locker, where her backpack sat on the floor, and fished out her iPhone. She searched her contacts and tapped Cal’s personal number. When no one answered, she tried the radio phone on board her mother’s salvage boat, Tess’s Revenge. She stared at the video display and frowned.
No one picked up. Where had Cal gone?
“This is so weird,” Lulu said. She was still playing with her camera phone.
Liz clicked off her iPhone. “What’s so weird?”
“The picture I took of Mister Yummy back there. It’s gone.”
“Did you delete it?”
“Why would I delete a totally awesome hunk like that?”
Liz turned back to look at the exit to the locker room.
“Who was that masked man?” Lu asked, sardonically.
Elizabeth laughed. “Well, he told us his name. Daniel Corker. He was probably just some guy off the street that snuck in. I should report him to Security.”
She knew she wouldn’t, of course.
Lulu smacked her lips. “Hope he comes back. I think he likes you. He was totally checking you out.”
Liz rolled her eyes. Lu crushed on every boy she met. Liz couldn’t remember ever crushing on guys like that at fourteen. Even now at the ripe old age of eighteen, she hardly had time for boys. There was school and fencing and looking after the house, CJ and Lulu. Their dad died when Liz was Lu’s age. An unexpected atom of resentment crept in and she glanced with mixed feelings at her sister. Elizabeth’s worst fear was that she would die a virgin.
Liz fluffed out her wavy brown hair and stripped. She wrapped a short cotton robe around her shoulders and went to the showers.
“But don’t you think it’s strange?” Lulu asked, following her. “I mean, Daniel just bolting like that because I took his picture?”
“Maybe he was camera-shy.”
“Nobody’s camera-shy. Especially nobody that looks like him.”
Liz shrugged. “He probably had a date. And for the record, Lu. Stick to guys your own age. That guy’s legal. You aren’t.”
“Oh, totally,” Lu said, and turned on the cold shower and shoved Liz, robe and all, into the spray, and giggled.
What a Great YA Novel!
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! All ages would likely enjoy it, but particularly 12 and up. - Betty Gelean, amazon.com review
This is an Extremely Entertaining Book
There were so many interesting characters in this book that really contributed to the feel of the story but to me three really STOOD out. First there was Liz, this sassy and opinionated girl who when faced with the disappearance of her mother jumps feet first into trouble and THRIVES. When she finds herself in the past with really no idea where to start, she takes charge of the situation and I LOVED watching her take on the mannerisms of the pirates she found herself surrounded by. She goes from a relatively normal modern day girl to one who without pausing (or batting an eye) threatens "Come any closer and I will slice you in half and show you the color of your insides" She fit right in and was ALOT of fun to read. Of course, every story there has to be a guy and although there were two in this story (a quick shout out to Wang) my attention was forever on Daniel, "the man-boy wannabe pirate" as Liz affectionately called him. He is EVERYTHING mysterious and he doesn't give very much information about himself away. Whether I was sighing over his pirate appearance and cocky two finger salute or laughing at his sarcastic conversations with Liz, I was going from moment to moment wondering "Who is this Daniel Corker guy?" Just when you think you know and think Liz will get him to answer her questions, he'd be wearing that grin of his and evade. IT DROVE ME NUTS but had me on the edge of my seat because honestly, who deoesn't find a mysterious bad boy HOT!! But, the third character who I felt STOLE the show and had me laughing the hardest was none other than Liz's parrot CJ !! My gosh it was the most sarcastic, quick witted, wise cracking bird I've ever seen. Whether he was squawking out loud or sharing a telepathic path with Liz, CJ was always there in every situation adding his two cents worth and as the story went on began speaking more like a pirate than the pirates were. HILARIOUS !!
I found myself not wanting to put the book down. This was an extremely entertaining book and without spoiling anything, you really don't want to miss the ending because if you're anything like me, you'll be left sitting straight as a board where you're sitting, gripping the book tightly, screaming "Whaaaatttt there has to be more" It was a great first book and I can't wait to see what happens next.- The BookishSnob
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