The Wreckers

by Iain Lawrence

Along the coast of Cornwall in the wild of a storm, the ship on which 14-year-old... read more

Along the coast of Cornwall in the wild of a storm, the ship on which 14-year-old John Spencer is traveling is torn apart while trying to follow lights on the shore to safe harbor. John is the apparent sole survivor. He finds himself stranded in a village where people's only source of income is the cargo and contents of ships that have crashed on the coast . But no bounty can be taken if any of the sailors survive, and some of the village men are not above murder to claim whatever a wreck may hold. John is saved from these men by Simon Mawgan, a local landowner who seems intent on making sure the boy gets safely on the next boat away from Cornwall. But despite Mawgan's apparent efforts to help him, and the reassurances and insights of the landowner's spirited niece, John begins to suspect that Simon and others in the village are responsible for his shipwreck, and many others besides, by luring storm-tossed boats toward false harbors with lanterns from the shore. Iain Lawrence's riveting novel, set at the end of the 18th century, is a dramatic tale of adventure and mystery, full of the tensions that both human nature and the natural world provide. An author's note provides background information on the history of the wreckers who did indeed live along the Cornwall coast in centuries past. (Ages 10-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1998

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