To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, July 1999: Return to the British coast, smugglers, sailing ships, and the violence and adventure Lawrence described in The Wreckers. John and his father, having recovered from the horrors in The Wreckers, are on their way by coach to the coast of Kent where they hope to take possession of a new schooner, The Dragon, which they will sail as a merchant ship. On the way, a highwayman injures John's father, who sends John on alone (John is 16) to sail The Dragon, with a load of wool, to London. John is taken over by a devilish Captain Crowe, who runs The Dragon to France to pick up brandy, returning to rendezvous with smugglers in Britain. John shows unbelievable courage and stubbornness to betray the smugglers and regain his ship. The action is nonstop, and the exotic period and John's bravery should capture the interest of young readers, especially those who already know something about ships and sailing. (Editor's note: This is an ALA Best Book for YAs.) (Sequel to the Wreckers) KLIATT Codes: J*Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 1999, Random House/Dell/Yearling, 183p, map, 20cm, $4.99. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-In Iain Lawrences's The Smugglers (Delacorte, 1999), set in Cornwell, England at the beginning of the 19th century, 16-year-old John Spencer and his father continue their adventures that began in The Wreckers (Delacorte, 1998). This time they are buying a new trading vessel, the Dragon, and hiring a crew who lead them into danger. Reminiscent of Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped, the main characters are caught in deception and intrigue. Encountering piracy aboard their ship, they use both wit and muscle to outmaneuver the deadly attempts on their lives. British actor Ron Keith uses differing tones of inflection to create suspense. His pronunciation is clear, and the reading is well-paced. Listeners will enjoy this dramatic tale of the high seas.-Tina Hudak, Takoma Park Maryland Library, MD Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Mary M. Burns
What places The Smugglers in the first rank of pirate-adventure yarns is the author's ability to create memorable characters...Avast, ye lubbers, for a great read!
The Horn Book Magazine
In this companion to The Wreckers (1998), Lawrence provides more adventures on the high seas. When John Spencer's father buys the mysterious black schooner, the Dragon, the 16-year-old boy is excited until he learns that he must make the ship's maiden voyage without his father. Among the bad omens: Mr. Spencer survives a shooting, and later, the captain they've hired is killed. Mr. Spencer is convinced that their affairs are looking better when he hires the colorful Captain Crowe to assume command of the vessel. No sooner does the schooner sail out of harbor than Crowe changes course unexpectedly, claiming that he has new orders. Crowe, of course, is a pirate, as are the scalawags he's hired, and in no time, John is trapped with the scurrilous crew. When it seems that John will be fed to the fish by Crowe, he escapes and lives to see the cur hanged on his beloved Dragon. The storytelling is broad but the details are fine: Lawrence has packed his tale full of vivid descriptions that are swarming with historical detail, painting as honest a picture of piracy as readers are likely to encounter. (Fiction. 9-14)
From the Publisher
"Readers who devoured The Wreckers will be eager to dig into this seafaring sequel."Booklist, Starred
"A corking good nautical adventure."The Horn Book Magazine
"[To] be devoured in a single sitting."The Bulletin
"Full of vivid descriptions that are swarming with historical detail."Kirkus Reviews
Read an Excerpt
I fetched a lantern and went right to the depths of the ship, where water, brown and fetid, slurped among the timbers. I went through the darkness in a circle of light, frightening cockroaches into shelter, hearing the groans and creaks of the hull as it worked. The places where I had to go were small and cramped, and I slithered through them as the lantern made the shadows zoom and tilt.
And someone came behind me.
When I stopped, he was silent. When I moved, so did he. I heard a faint creaking of wood as he crept up, closing the distance. He was quiet as a cat. And suddenly I felt a hand touch my shoulder. I cried out, startled, as he pushed me down against the hull.
"You're in danger, boy," said he.
I tried to lift myself, to turn and see him, but the sailor held me down.
"Watch yourself," he said. "There's one aboard who'll kill you."
For a moment I only heard him breathing. He said, "The one who seems least likely."
"But who?" I asked again.
He pressed harder on my shoulder. "He'll want the dead man's secrets. See you keep them safe."
"Who are you?" I asked.
"A man you never saw." And then the hand was gone.
From the Hardcover edition.