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The Sea-wreck Stranger


Riveting post-apocalyptic YA fantasy, The Sea-wreck Stranger, first book of the award-winning Sea-Wreck trilogy, is a thriller you simply can't put down.

An isolated community bound by suspicion and fear.

An island people who shun the sea and all it brings.

A girl who finds a stranger washed up on the sand.


Can she save him? Can she deal with the consequences?


Ness, Ty and Sophie live in a small island community: a community that has turned its back on the sea, on the technology of a world gone wrong, even on its own past. 


When the arrival of a stranger forces them to question the world they know – a world dominated by stolid Marn, bitter Tilda and the overbearing Colm – Ness rebels against the stark austerity of her life. Warned to keep silent, she can’t help asking questions. But with life and death in the balance, the only question that comes to matter is whose life will prove forfeit.


Sophie calls me and I tilt my arms wide as wings and circle back towards her.


'What is it, Ness?' she asks, stooping low over a twisted pile of kelp. Almost lost in its dark strands is a sparkle of blue, gauzy and fine.


Despite the bans, we always search for sea-wreck in the tangle along the tide-line. Often enough there's no purpose we can see to the things the sea abandons, but there's no evil either  at least none beyond the hints it carries of a world beyond our shores. As to that, the Council would have us believe there's nothing left but wreck of whatever world there was - in which case, I can't see that it should matter if we trouble ourselves to study it.

Cover image for Anna Mackenzie's Sea-wreck Stranger

Published NZ 2007

Australia 2009; France 2010

Anna Mackenzie, Ebony Hill, YA dystopian fiction

SW Trilogy

Book 2

Mackenzie, Finder's Shore, YA dystopian fiction

SW Trilogy

Book 3

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Sample Chapters

The Story Behind the Story 

Teaching Notes


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Story Behind the Story – Anna says:

Writers are magpies. We gather up ideas and images, both gaudy and dark, then pluck a few from the pile whenever it suits. The Sea-wreck Stranger has its roots in the gleanings of decades.


As a youngster I loved dystopian fiction. I liked to think about where the world was heading and the role people play in bringing about change; about how we deal with the fall-out from those who went before. When I was quite young I watched a BBC TV dramatization of John Wyndham’s sci-fi novel ‘The Triffids’ – I was absorbed by it, even though much of it went over my head (and despite, by today’s standards, the special effects being atrocious!). I liked the sense of surviving against the odds, the warning it offered about the unexpected nature of disaster and the fragility of the status quo. Even more, I was fascinated by the different ways various groups approached surviving the crisis and rebuilding the world. Add to that a moment on an island in the bleak North Sea looking at the abandoned remnants of an insular and isolated community, the planned dumping of toxic waste into our oceans, and an afternoon on a lakeshore where my children were searching through flotsam and jetsam and making up explanations for the things that they found, and you somehow have the elements from which a story would be born.


Of course, a lot more than that goes into the making of a novel – or in this case a trilogy – but each of those stored memories added a thread to the weave, some as warp, some as weft. The characters, setting, family and community dynamics all gelled in that brief moment of watching my children play. I was writing something else at the time, so I really only intended to sketch out the idea that was forming, but the story took me over. By day’s end I’d written the first four chapters, and from that point on there was no holding the story back.


Cathedral Cave, NZ
West Coast NZ
Scottish Hebrides
What the Reviewers Say


'The Sea-wreck Stranger is a really tight, gripping story with a pacey plot, but what really stands out for me is the sheer beauty of the writing. Here there is a wordsmith at the top of her game... it’s one of those novels where a great story meets a great storyteller. There’s going to be a sequel and I can’t wait!'
– John McIntyre, National Radio


'The writing is assured, the plot page-turning, the location utterly convincing. Ness is a well-drawn, lively and distinctive character ... A compelling read.'

NZ Post Judges' Report


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Read sample chapters 

Awards & Nominations


Honour Award, NZ Post Book Awards 2008

CLF Notable Book 2008

Sir Julius Vogel Award winner 2008

Shortlisted for Lianza Esther Glen Medal 2008

White Raven Book (Germany) 2008

Teaching Notes

Comprehensive Teaching Notes are available for all Anna's books.

Mackenzie, The Sea-wreck Stranger, YA dystopian fiction

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