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 has an outstanding reputation as a writer of young adult fiction and innovative picture books. His numerous prizes and awards include CBC Book of the Year: Older Readers for Strange Objects and Angel's Gate (1991 and 1994): CBC Picture Book of the Year for First Light (1994) and CBC Picture Book of the Year for The Water Tower (1995). Gary is also the editor of the After Dark Series. Philip Neilsen is a fiction writer for adults, young adults and children, as well as an acclaimed poet. His story in The Dark House (ed. Gary Crew, 1995), was shortlisted for an Aureatis Award. Philip is Head of the Creative Writing Program at the Queenstand University of Technology.