Friday, 24 March 2017

The Smuggler’s Curse

The Smuggler’s Curse by Norman Jorgensen (Fremantle Press) PB RRP $16.99 ISBN 9781925164190

Reviewed by Teena Raffa-Mulligan

The Smuggler’s Curse is a swashbuckling adventure that delivers a rollicking good read guaranteed to keep young readers glued to the pages throughout. This not-so-young reader was captivated from the opening lines by the tale of a boy sold to an infamous smuggler in the closing days of the nineteenth century.

The adventure unfolds through the boy’s eyes and Norman Jorgensen captures his young narrator Red Read’s voice beautifully. He also draws a vivid picture of life in colonial times. History comes alive for the reader as Red is caught up in life-threatening encounters with cutthroat pirates, head hunting guerrillas and the forces of nature when he joins the crew of Captain Black Bowen’s ship The Black Dragon as ship’s boy.

Jorgensen has set his gripping tale of smuggling and piracy off the north-west coast of Australia, with the ship sailing from Broome and travelling to South East Asia. Historical detail is woven seamlessly into the story, which has clearly been well researched.

There is some violence in the book but there’s also a liberal sprinkling of humour and a strong element of warmth underpinning the relationships between the Captain, his crew and young Red.

Jorgensen is an award-winning author whose books for young people have won critical and popular acclaim both in Australia and overseas.
He is a consummate tale teller and has delivered this latest release in inimitable style.

The Smuggler’s Curse is sure to be a favourite with 9-14 year olds who enjoy a ripping yarn told well. It would also be a great addition to the classroom for its perspective on life in colonial times. Teaching notes are available from the publisher.    

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