When 14-year-old John Spencer’s father’s merchant ship sinks on the rocks just off the rocky coast of the Cornish area of England, he finds himself stranded in the mysterious fishing village of Pendennis. All is not as it seems in this village and John quickly comes to suspect there may be more to the frequent shipwrecks in the area than a jagged coastline.
Do not let the lack of the modern, splashy YA cover deceive you, this Young Adult novel is fast-paced: complete with chases, escapes, and mysteries to be solved. The book cover may be muted, but The Wrecker’s writing and dialogue are lively and colorful. Fans of any or all of the Young Adult genres of historical fiction, adventure, survival, or mystery should be satisfied.
The Wreckers fits nicely with my “capable boy” story explanation, first described in my review of Airborn. I described a “capable boy” as a young lad who reacts with bravery, resourcefulness and intelligence when suddenly put into a harrowing situation. Also like Airborn, this book recalls the adventurous spirit of Robert Louis Stevenson. In addition to this, Iain Lawrence’s descriptions of the characters and the village also add an element of Charles Dickens.
In terms of themes or content, there is little in this book that should offend anyone. On the other hand, the story is not so saccharine that young readers who enjoy a little edge will be turned off. The book is under 200 pages, so those just looking for a quick read also might think to give it a try. If you or your teen reader enjoy The Wreckers, note that it is the first book in a trilogy.