Cover image for The smugglers
The smugglers
Lawrence, Iain, 1955-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Delacorte Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
183 pages : map ; 22 cm
In eighteenth-century England, after his father buys a schooner called the Dragon, sixteen-year-old John sets out to sail it from Kent to London and becomes involved in a dangerous smuggling scheme.
General Note:
Sequel to: The wreckers.
Reading Level:
640 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.7 6.0 34885.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.4 12 Quiz: 21543 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



Readers will relish this companion to the highly acclaimed adventure,The Wreckers: Young John is charmed by theDragon, the schooner he is planning to sail to London and use for the honest wool trade.  But a mysterious gentleman delivers an ominous warning to "steer clear of that ship," because the ship was "christened with blood."  The ship looks clever and quick, and the crew seems to know how to man it, but with such a warning John is left to wonder how well he really knows what lies ahead.  Will he heed the advice given by the mysterious man?  Or will he brave the unknown on his own?

Author Notes

Iain Lawrence is a journalist, travel writer, and author. His novels include Ghost Boy, Lord of the Nutcracker Men, The Skeleton Tree, and the High Seas Trilogy.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. Readers who devoured The Wreckers (1998), Lawrence's first ripping yarn of adventure, mystery, and derring-do on the Cornish coast 200 years ago, will be eager to dig into this seafaring sequel. Now 16 years old, narrator John Spencer takes responsibility for bringing his father's ship, the Dragon, from Kent to London with a cargo of wool. Dependent on the unscrupulous and perhaps mad captain appointed by his father, John is alarmed by hints of smuggling, warnings of evil, portents of death, all of which erupt in violence and murder as the journey nears its end. Along the way, John tries to sort out what to believe, whom to trust, and how to prove himself worthy of his father's belief in him. John makes a stalwart, sympathetic Everyman, surrounded by a cast of memorable and wildly colorful characters: the one-armed boatman who has a rude remark for every occasion; the blind woman who has waited 30 years for her seafaring husband's return; the sailor who fears drowning so much that he wears a jerkin sewn with layers and layers of corks; and the sailor's alter ego, a red-cloaked highwayman who has so many firearms in his belt, hands, and bandolier that he's said to bristle with pistols. A well-written period adventure, with the door left open for more to come. --Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the wake of Lawrence's The Wreckers comes this companion novel, a second riveting high-sea adventure featuring swashbuckling characters, salty dialogue and a taut succession of cliffhangers. The author successfully conjures an aura of mystery and tension around The Dragon, a schooner once used to smuggle goods (and men) between England and France. Now John Spencer and his merchant father want to use the boat for honest trade, but as soon as they purchase The Dragon, they seem to be touched by its curse: someone murders the captain they've hired before the ship sets sail; his replacement, blustery Captain Crowe, turns out to be a scoundrel who hires a crew of criminals. During the first leg of the voyage, John receives a cryptic warning to "beware the one who seems least likely" to harm him. But which man could it be? Wrought in the tradition of a 19th-century serial, this novel moves along at a clip via brief episodic chapters and complicated twists. Naive to the ways of experienced con men, John has his work cut out for him, but his bravery and high morals earn him the rank of hero. Ages 10-14. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-9Another adventure from the author of The Wreckers (Delacorte, 1998), featuring the same sturdy hero, John Spencer. As the 19th century begins in England, the 16-year-old is an able assistant in his fathers business. He still loves the sea, and is thrilled to be selected as the firms representative on a voyage bringing goods to London aboard the Dragon. This seemingly mundane venture turns sinister almost immediately. A stranger warns the Spencers about the beautiful schooners past as a smugglers vessel and her reputation as a death ship. Suddenly violence and close calls beset merchant and son, and John finds himself at sea, isolated from communication with his father, and accompanied by a less-than-trustworthy captain and crew. Soon they sail into dangerous waters, literally and figuratively, and John needs all of his strength and wits to overcome deadly threats from powerful enemies, find answers to old mysteries, and bring the Dragon home safely. As in its companion novel, the books nonstop action, fast-paced plot, and picturesque characters make for a real page-turner.Starr E. Smith, Marymount University Library, Arlington, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



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." "Who?" 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. Excerpted from The Smugglers by Iain Lawrence All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.