Restless Spirit Te Wairua Whakariuka Susan Brocker, HarperCollins, 2007, 172 pages, paperback, NZ$17.99ISBN 1-86950-623-5
A striking white stallion, one of the horses roaming the Kaimanawa area, is the restless spirit of the title in Susan Brocker’s Restless Spirit Te Wairua Whakariuka. Part of the story is told from the viewpoint of various horses that have contributed to the wild herd in the past: a pit pony, an Arab thoroughbred and an artillery horse. Each has its own dramatic story and it is easy to see why Lara is entranced when she first sees the wild horses, soon after moving to Waiouru. Her new friend Kahu teaches her to ride and they soon become involved in trying to stop a local hunter, Tusker, from ill-treating and killing the white stallion.
This is not just another horse story (although it is a good one). It is also a portrait of two young people – both loners – achieving friendship and each becoming aware of the other’s special talents. Lara finds she works well with animals and Kahu learns to appreciate his artistic skills. This is an excellent first novel, with vivid writing, interesting characterisation and a poignant ending.
This review first appeared in The Press, Christchurch on 31st March 2007.