Blue Cloud by Marion Day
Can a wild horse, a girl and a mad woman unite to make dreams come true?
Blue Cloud, a Kaimanawa horse, belongs to the wind and rain and to the earth and sky. Grace is a high school student desperate for Hinehopu’s wishing tree to grant her wish of owning a horse. Will ‘the Fruitcake’, a woman the townsfolk say is bonkers, be able to complete the triangle and bring girl and horse together?
Blue Cloud was a lovely surprise. I am not, and never was, a big horse lover. So I was a little wary that this book wouldn’t appeal to me. However, Day has a great love for nature; for the environments and it’s relationship to the land, sea and to each other. This love is evident throughout Blue Cloud. Yes, it is a book that young horse lovers will absolutely cherish.
But Day writes incredibly well that even non-horsey readers will find themselves caught up in the story. Her love of poetry is also evident within the book. There are sentences within the book that absolutely sing. Her imagery is rich, vibrant and incredibly strong.
Grace is a loveable character, with traits that are easily recognisable within ourselves. Britta, Phil and Tony, her close friends, are also well developed, while ‘Fruitcake’ holds promise.
There are elements of the story that I wish Day had explored further. When one of Grace’s friends dies, it is barely dealt with and there’s a backstory that is hinted at but never fully broached. It left me wanting more, yet I doubt it will be explored further in subsequent books.
While I appreciate what Day was attempting to do with chapters from the horse’s viewpoint, it felt a little too far-fetched. The chapters from Blue’s voice distracted from what was otherwise a strong story. I felt the words she’d spent on those chapters could have been better spent on developing other parts of the plot. There was so much more that Day could have chosen to explore more, to further deepen the story, including ‘Fruitcake’ and her mental health issues, grief, rural issues around suicide, and a clash of cultures. However, that could have turned the story away from what Day was trying to achieve – to challenge the reader’s perceptions of both humans and animals.
While there were some aspects that made me cringe – Grace’s mother and their mocking of her culture being one – Blue Cloud is an engrossing read. Horse-loving teenagers will adore it, while it will also appeal those of us that appreciate moments of lyrical storytelling.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
CreateBooks, RRP $22.00