Monday 15 August 2011

Review: The Island of Thieves by Josh Lacey

Buried treasure. Ruthless gangsters. An ancient clue . . .

Our Captayne took the pinnace ashore and I went with hym and six men also, who were sworne by God to be secret in al they saw. Here we buried five chests filled with gold.

Tom Trelawney was looking for excitement. Now he's found it. With his eccentric uncle Harvey, he's travelling to South America on a quest for hidden gold. But Harvey has some dangerous enemies and they want the treasure too. Who will be the first to uncover the secrets of the mysterious island?

This is one of the most difficult reviews I have had to write for some time as I have found it difficult to put my "9 year old" hat on for this one. The story details above promise so much, and had me dropping everything when it arrived, expecting an old-school high-octane adventure story for the 9+ age group. Instead, I found it to be a fairly predictable by-numbers treasure hunt story with very few surprises. What I have to decide is whether a child would feel the same about it?

The story starts with Tom accidentally burning down the garden shed just as his parents are due to go on holiday. The parents of his friend are now no longer happy with him staying with them, and therefore they turn to irresponsible Uncle Harvey as a last resort. However, as soon as they have driven off down the road Harvey informs Tom that he is leaving for Peru, and leaving his nephew to fend for himself in London for the week. Tom has other plans however, and manages to coerce his uncle into taking him along on his quest for the long lost treasure of Francis Drake. This quest will see Tom become involved in a deadly race for the treasure, hounded all the way by dangerous criminals in the pay of a Peruvian crime boss.

Sounds exciting doesn't it? The narrative moves at a pretty fast pace, and there are some pretty nasty villains to add a little spice to the pair's adventure, but that's about it... no twists in the plot to speak of, so is there enough to keep a young boy interested? All I can say is that it really depends on the boy in question. I know some less confident readers who would happily read this book from cover to cover and enjoy the many exciting action scenes in the story, and not notice the over-contrived plot points. And yet I also know boys of the same age who would not find it at all rewarding once they reach the final page, and like me would be less than excited at the prospect of a sequel. , so it is unlikely there will be time for him to get bored with it, but would he find it an ultimately rewarding read come the final page? 

If you have a son who is in the 9-11 age range and you are looking for an adventure story as a summer holiday read then you could do a lot worse than this book, especially if he is a less-confident reader, but then again you could also do a great deal better. My thanks go the the people at Andersen Press for sending me a copy of The Island of Thieves to review. 


  1. I admire your honesty in this review. I know it isn't easy. I am going to read this. It does sound like it will appeal to the market and sometimes children do like an easy read. But I'm going to admit that I am now no longer bursting to read it. Have you read any other books by the author? I'm just wondering if they compare to his other books which I know are rather popular.

  2. Libby Williams23 May 2012 at 21:55

    I'm in this book quiz and this is the second book i read and I thick it's the best book ever xxxx