From School Library Journal
Grade 5-9–Readers in search of swashbuckling adventure, gripping plot twists, and hair-raising encounters will gravitate to this sequel to The Convicts
(Delacorte, 2005). Set on the high seas during the 1820s, the story follows the adventures of Tom Tin and a handful of very bad and not-so-bad boys who are being transported from London to Australia to serve out their prison terms. The first of many outrageous coincidences is that, while Tom is a prisoner below decks, his own father is at the helm. But the hapless captain, who is being persecuted by the sinister, offstage Mr. Goodfellow, can't do much to help. Tom and his blind friend, Midgely, decide that they must escape and return to England to dig up the jewel that Tom has hidden. Unfortunately, a gang of cruel and vengeful boys comes with them. Every turn of the plot becomes more far-fetched as the boys encounter an Alexander Selkirk-like castaway, a missionary's daughter (beautiful, of course), Komodo dragons, and the cannibals. The mood is as much fantastic as it is Dickensian. There is a hard edge to the violence, but there are moments of humor and caring as well. Readers are well set up for a planned third book. A well-researched author's note gives a short history of convict transport to Australia and recounts the true story of Mary Bryant who, with 10 others, fled in a small boat from Botany Bay to Timor, a distance of over 3000 miles. In that context, Tom Tin's adventures seem a shade more plausible.–Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
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"Fire-breathing monsters, headless corpses, gigantic snakes, a mysterious woman, and islands full of cannibals make this high-spirited, old-fashioned adventure tale, complete with cliffhanger chapter endings, a treat."—Kirkus Reviews
"Offers a Robert Louis Stevenson brand of excitement that will draw fans of exotic adventure tales."—Publishers Weekly
"Readers in search of swashbuckling adventure, gripping plot twists, and hair-raising encounters will gravitate to this sequel to The Convicts
."—School Library Journal
"Lawrence keeps the reader on edge."—The Horn Book Magazine
"Excellent writing. . . . The action comes at breakneck speed."—VOYA