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Aiden Lynch is already a survivor at 16 when he arrives,  alone and on the run from the law, in the glittering city of San Francisco. Luck turns his way after he rescues a wealthy man's son from a fight in the notorious Barbary Coast​.


​When Aiden wins a ship in a high-stakes poker game, the chance to make his own fortune is suddenly within reach.

The ship comes with a license for trade in Peruvian guano, a rare and valuable fertilizer. But what he finds in Peru is a savage business with hundreds of Chinese men forced into slavery, working in brutal conditions. 

When one of the miners, claiming to be a kidnapped Chinese nobleman, begs for rescue, Aiden's loyalties, courage and morals are tested.


A powerful narrative . . . Aiden’s dilemmas are rooted in the time and yet move beyond it, creating a glimpse into the past that is relevant today.

Kirkus Reviews


Action-packed novel. . . It's easy to forget Aiden is a teenager as he intelligently grapples with one adult dilemma after another. He's a likable survivor, and teens craving a gritty saga with a hint of romance will not be disappointed.

School Library Journal


Also by Victoria McKernan

Devil's Paintbox

Shackleton's Stowaway

The Mosquito War

Osprey Reef

Point Deception

Crooked Island

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