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The wreckers

by Iain Lawrence


Book Review

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Publishers Weekly :

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First-time novelist Lawrence gives a nod to Robert Louis Stevenson in a fast-paced, atmospheric yarn that will have adventure buffs glued to their seats. Author of two adult books on sailing, Lawrence paints a minutely observed picture of maritime life in 1799 Cornwall, where whole villages made a living by plundering ships they'd lured onto the jagged rocks of their storm-swept coastline. One such vessel is the Isle of Skye, owned by the father of 14-year-old narrator John Spencer, a Londoner who narrowly escapes drowning only to see a shipmate murdered by one of the wreckers. John goes in search of his missing father and stumbles across Stumps, a legless villain as terrifying as they come, who hints about a cache of gold and makes dark threats on his and his father's lives. Not knowing whom he can trust, John has to feel his way through a web of intrigue and treachery before time runs out for his father--and himself. From the evocative jacket painting of a moonlit shipwreck to the superb characterizations, hair-raising plot and authentic period details, Lawrence's fiction is first-rate. Ages 10-14.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Book Review

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School Library Journal :

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Gr 6-9--In this novel set in 1799, 14-year-old John Spencer of London falls in love with life at sea on his first voyage as a passenger on his father's merchant sailing ship. He can't bear to think about plans for his desk-bound future in the family business. The young man's dreams and disappointments must be set aside when a furious storm claims the vessel and its crew. Washed onto a Cornish beach, John at first seems incredibly lucky, but soon finds that the ocean has delivered him into danger. The nearby village of Pendennis supports itself communally through the practice of "wrecking": tricking vessels onto the lethal coastal rocks, then looting the remains. However, the goods cannot be claimed if there are any survivors. As John uses his wits and his few sympathizers to plan an escape, he learns that his father may also be alive. He must overcome ever more perilous challenges if he is to save the man from a dreadful captivity. Though most of the exciting, fast-paced action occurs on land, this is really a sea story in the grand tradition of sailors' yarns, full of cliffhanging moments and well-drawn, colorful characters. The author expertly weaves maritime lingo and details into the narrative, creating an entertaining and engrossing nautical adventure.

Starr E. Smith, Marymount University Library, Arlington, VA

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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