SECRETS OF THE FEARLESS, Elizabeth Laird, Macmillan, 351 pages, paperback, NZ $29.95. ISBN 1-405-05527-8
Fine Adventure for the Young
‘Enough of this chatter,’ interrupted the captain. ‘John, will you undertake this mission? It’s dangerous, and important, and a fine adventure for a boy…’ A recent major trend in children’s literature has been the growth of exciting adventure stories often aimed at boys, always a difficult group to attract to fiction. Secrets of the Fearless, with its fast-moving action and strong characterisation, is one of the best of these. Elizabeth Laird, a New Zealand-born writer, has had a long interest in life in Nelson’s navy; one of her ancestors served under Cochrane, the inspiration for Hornblower and Aubrey. Pressed on board HMS Fearless, John Barr, a Scottish 12 year old, soon finds his sea-legs, and is drawn into some remarkable adventures on sea and land with his shipmate Kit. When they arrive off the coast of Napoleon’s France, John discovers he isn’t the only one with mysterious secrets.
This review first appeared in The Press, Christchurch, New Zealand on 21st January 2006.