The Drover’s Quest by Susan Brocker, Harper Collins NZ
It’s the late 1860’s in the gold mining West Coast of New Zealand. A man is attacked for his gold and this is where the story begins.
‘The Drover’s Quest’ begins with two separate stories. Joseph is fifteen, half Cherokee and has just sailed into Lyttelton Harbour on a whaling ship from America.
Charlotte has just turned fourteen, and misses her father who is mining on the West Coast. When she hears that her father was murdered, she won’t believe it, cuts off her hair and leaves the nun’s home her father left her in - dressed as a boy. Determined to find out the truth and skilled with horses, she joins a team of drovers taking 1000 head of cattle over Arthur’s Pass to Hokitika as Charlie.
Only Tama (her father’s best mate) knows her secret as they begin their long, arduous drove.
Joseph has also joined the team, his excellent horsemanship taught to him by his Cherokee grandfather. The youngest on the drove, Charlie and Joseph are drawn together and when Charlie nearly drowns, Joseph discovers her secret.
As their stories intertwine, the tension builds along the drove, with Joseph hiding his own secret.
‘The Drover’s Quest’ is interwoven with Maori folklore, and shows the strong bond between drovers and the animals they rely on. The dogs and horses are an important part of the drover’s lives and the novel itself, and this story gives a real insight into a part of the life and the land of early New Zealand.
With two strong main characters, both boys and girls will enjoy Susan Brocker’s latest novel. The detail is brilliant and the contrast between Maori and Cherokee is something different for readers.
ISBN – 978 1 86950 907 1 RRP $19.99
Reviewed by Adele Broadbent
Justice and Utu by David Hair, HarperCollins NZ
This is the fourth book in the series which began with The Bone Tiki and continued in The Taniwha’s Tear and The Lost Tohunga. The background of this series is becoming fairly complex, so I’d recommend interested readers begin with the first book. The main character continues to be Matiu Douglas, nearly 17 now, who is a trainee tohunga ruanuku (or Adept). He has magical powers which enable him to battle evil tohunga - and travel at will to the Ghost World, aka Aotearoa, which exists alongside our own world. Matui becomes reluctantly involved when his father, a lawyer, is summoned to defend an old enemy in Aotearoa, another magic wielder called Donna Kyle. A complicated situation develops when Donna escapes from prison and goes after her father, a much more powerful magican called Asher Grieve. The resulting chase from Auckland to Kororareka to White Island involves a host of characters and factions (many of them involving real people, such as Governor Hobson). The reader must pay close attention in order to understand what’s going on. Non-stop action, secrets and suspense, bloodthirsty battles, magical duels and eventual death are combined to produce a fast and demanding read for teenage fantasy fans of about 14 to 16.
ISBN 978 1 86950 931 6 RRP $24.99 Pb