Phantom of Terawhiti by Des Hunt, HarperCollins NZ
Another title in Des’s long line of exciting adventure stories with strong New Zealand settings and themes. This one is set on Wellington’s wild south-west coast, in the Makara area. Zac and his father are living on the remote Terawhiti Station, trying to stay incognito (Zac’s father was involved in a business scandal). But a large boat belonging to a Russian billionaire is shipwrecked on the rocks nearby – and a strange creature seems to have come ashore. Zac and a local girl called Jess track the animal down and find that it’s a tame albino serval, ie. a large wildcat. Unfortunately a couple of Russian thugs are also looking for the rare animal, as well as some over-enthusiastic hunters. Zac and Jess work frantically to save the cat, but their task is made even more difficult when she’s located near Zealandia, a wildlife conservation park. It’s an absorbing read for intermediate ages, especially boys.
Note to publishers – readers DO study the cover and pick up mistakes. The spooky feline eyes on the front should belong to a white cat, not a black one.Des Hunt is the author of thirteen novels, including the acclaimed CRY OF THE TANIWHA. After forty years working in education he is now a full-time writer, using novels to share his fascination with science, technology and the world around us. For more information visit deshunt.com.
ISBN 978 1 86950 954 5 $19.99 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman