Fiction Book Reviews

Historical Fiction | Wrecker | Noel O’Reilly

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We’re delighted to be sharing Laura’s thoughts for debut novel Wrecker by Noel O’Reilly.

Wrecker by Noel O'Reilly (book cover)

A powerful debut exploring the dark side of Cornwall – the wrecking and the drowned sailors – where poverty drove villagers to dark deeds…

Shipwrecks are part of life in the remote village of Porthmorvoren, Cornwall. And as the sea washes the bodies of the drowned onto the beach, it also brings treasures: barrels of liquor, exotic fruit, the chance to lift a fine pair of boots from a corpse, maybe even a jewel or two.

When, after a fierce storm, Mary Blight rescues a man half-dead from the sea, she ignores the whispers of her neighbours and carries him home to nurse better. Gideon Stone is a Methodist minister from Newlyn, a married man. Touched by Mary’s sacrifice and horrified by the superstitions and pagan beliefs the villagers cling to, Gideon sets out to bring light and salvation to Porthmorvoren by building a chapel on the hill.

But the village has many secrets and not everyone wants to be saved. As Mary and Gideon find themselves increasingly drawn together, jealousy, rumour and suspicion is rife. Gideon has demons of his own to face, and soon Mary’s enemies are plotting against her…

Gripping, beautifully written and utterly beguiling, Noel O’Reilly’s debut WRECKER is a story of love, injustice, superstition and salvation, set against Cornwall’s dark past.

Wrecker by Noel O’Reilly is published by HQ and is available to purchase in digital, paperback, hardcover and audiobook formats.


I really enjoyed the beginning of this story, as the wreckers were found on the beach taking any treasure they could find, which had been washed up from a shipwreck. A few treasures are washed up with dead bodies off the coast of Porthmorvoren, and snapped up by a few locals, including Mary Blight.

Mary is memorable, with her feisty character and red hair. She rescues Gideon Stone, a minister, from the sea. This act of kindness leads him to feel burdened to help the people in Porthmorvoren, who are living in poverty, with a tendency to follow pagan beliefs.

I was expecting to read more about wreckers and found the plot quite slow at times. However I enjoyed the description of the setting and the historical detail from this time.

Wrecker is a dark and atmospheric story which explores religion, morality, love and poverty.

Jera's Jamboree

Noel O’Reilly is an editor of magazines and websites on workplace issues. Saxophone player, guitarist and, for a brief spell, trombonist.  English Literature graduate from Goldsmiths College. Longtime lapsed Roman Catholic and aspiring Buddhist Atheist.

Connect with Noel O’Reilly on Twitter @noeloreilly

Family comes first! I'm married with two son's in their 20's and have a little more time now to follow my passions. I love my role as an Inclusion Lead in KS2 and I'm passionate about early help. I'm a member of Bournemouth's Early Help Operational Board working alongside others to instigate change and growth. I'm also passionate about my love of reading, being out in nature and creating with crochet. I've been blogging for eight years at Jera's Jamboree.

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