Last one!’ yelled Tom, as he sent a bale of prime lucerne tumbling off the back of the semitrailer.
Luke let it fall to the ground end-first. It bounced, then toppled onto its side with a thud. He stabbed his hay hooks into it and with one last surge of energy heaved it up to the top of the stack, where Lawson was arranging the bales tightly in a crisscross pattern.
‘That it?’ yelled Lawson.
‘Yep,’ Luke shouted back, hanging the hooks onto the beam that ran along the wall of the shed. He was dripping with sweat, itchy from the tiny stalks and dust, and his muscles ached, but he felt great. ‘That oughta keep their bellies full for a while,’ he said, looking up at the mountain of hay.
Lawson scrambled down the side of the stack like a mountain goat and brushed the loose green leaves from the front of his shirt. ‘Eight hundred bales, I’m knackered!’
Fostered teenager Luke loves living with Harry on this horse property. He loves the horses, the open space and the fact that Harry seems to actually like him and want him around. But Harry is sick. When Harry dies, and tempers flare, Luke flees the place he’s called home. He heads north in search of brumbies and work and a place to belong. He finds the brumbies, he finds learning and peace in the great outdoors. But there’s unfinished business back at Coachwood Crossing and it won’t leave him alone. He’s not sure he’ll ever be able to return, even after the moonstone promise he made to Jess.
Moonstone Promise is the second instalment in a series from Karen Wood. The first instalment, Diamond Spirit introduced Jess and her horse-filled world. It also introduced Luke. Moonstone Promise is his story, and begins where Diamond Spirit finishes. But it could easily be read as a stand-alone novel. Luke struggles with the demons of his past as well as uncertainty of his future. His meeting with Bob and two of his friends leads to a connection with and reading of the land that provides strength and direction. Wood’s portrayal of Gulf characters is at once playful and insightful. Luke’s journey is more than physical although you’ll have to read the novel to discover where he finds his home. Recommended for secondary readers and anyone who loves horses.
Moonstone Promise, Karen Wood
Allen & Unwin 2011
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.