Review Blog

Jun 12 2019

The Wreckers' Revenge by Norman Jorgensen

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Fremantle Press, 2019, ISBN: 9781925815450.
(Age: 11-14) Recommended. Themes: Piracy, Courage, Colonisation, Coming of Age. Norman Jorgenson's swashbuckling tale The Wrecker's Revenge sees young Red Read sent away to Christian Brothers' College in Perth after his adventures at sea. He dislikes the cold weather, food, finds only English and Geography worthwhile and doesn't tolerate the bullying he observes. When he fights one of the Brothers hitting a smaller student with a leather strop, Red is quickly locked up and sentenced by a cruel magistrate to 20 birch lashes. Whilst locked in jail, Red noticed mysterious writing and numbers on the wall, William Dampier, bulyon, Coconut Island. Luckily his guardian Captain Black Bowen rescues him and he's returned to his seafaring family aboard the Black Dragon.
Captain Bowen's keen for a new adventure, searching for the Dutch explorer's hidden treasure. He's also on the run from the law for meting out revenge on the cruel magistrate, shooting him in his backside. On their journey up the treacherous Western Australian coastline, they are pursued by five pearl luggers from Broome keen to reach Dampier's treasure first. Armed with cannons, salvaged from a Dutch shipwreck, a fierce battle ensues. Their dramatic escape is just one of the many close encounters on their journey to the Cocos Islands. Collecting bat guano to make gunpowder, climbing the ratlines to keep lookout in the crow's nest, assisting the crew as they prepare for battle, Red Read's ship-board life is filled with excitement and danger. He learns to think creatively, assisting Shakespeare quoting Captain Bowen, and the crew fight the 'vicious, revenge crazed wreckers.'
Red's journey is filled with danger; for days he sails one of the captured luggers after the crew die from typhoid fever. He just escapes a close encounter with a shark, and finally returns home to Broom receiving a special reward for his bravery.
Norman Jorgensen's dramatic novel delivers fast-paced action, colourful characters and historical insights into the history of Western Australian. He challenges the stereotype roles of women and indigenous peoples and comments on the impact of colonisation. His protagonist, Red Read is wise beyond his years, resilient, willing to learn and has a strength of character. Violence is portrayed, revenge is handed out and fierce battles are fought.
The Wreckers' Revenge is a thrilling read for fans of pirates, Australian history and daring adventures.
Rhyllis Bignell

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