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A dramatic story based on the historical fact of Point Puer, the boys prison at Port Arthur, Tasmania.
A boy convict, Edward Britton, 17, is the main character. He is good-looking, literate and well educated compared to the other boys, and has been a Shakespearian child actor in London. He was transported for stealing from the acting troupe s kitty. He attracts the attention of the daughter of the brutal Point Puer Commandant and a love affair develops. The girl s stepmother is jealous and makes Edward s life hell. A subplot revolves around an Irish convict boy, Izod, whose parents were killed by British troops during the food riots of the potato famine. Reduced to theft to survive, he was transported for stealing food. To his amazement, the Commandant is the same British Officer who killed his parents back in Ireland. He has a deep-seated hatred of the British generally and the Commandant in particular, and he plots revenge.
The theme is study of tyrannical power which can be wielded by adults (and sometimes other children) who are placed in authority over the most disempowered, helpless and exploited members of society the children.
Gary Crew is well known for his rich, multi-layered and intensely suspenseful bestselling novels for young adults. Four times the winner of the CBC Book of the Year Award, as well as other numerous awards, Gary was a high school English teacher for eighteen years, before turning to university lecturing and full-time writing. He lives in Queensland.