A supernatural Fiordland adventure, Nell Mace-David
December 03, 2021
“You be careful out there, Nissa girl,” he said. “People far more forest-savvy than you have gotten themselves lost in Fiordland. Some of them for good.”
Nissa Marshall was five when she first saw them. At the time, she was too young to understand what she was seeing. A strange, pulsating, light in the middle of the forest. She called them fairies, not knowing what they really were, of course. Nobody believed her. Not her parents, even though her dad still thinks that there’s moose in Fiordland. Not her friends, but it isn’t like she really has any anyway. Not even her brother, but why would he? Ever since, she has longed to prove them all wrong. To show these strange fairies that she still believes. And now she has her chance.
It is when Nissa’s Year 8 class takes a trip to Fiordland that she finally sees them again. Two lights, hovering around the trees. Nissa promises herself that she will be back in three hours. No one will notice. She would never have guessed that instead of those three hours, she spends much, much, longer in the unexplored Fiordland forest.
When the fairies, or forest sparks as they prefer to be called, take her in they don’t waste any time. Soon she is without any memory of the place that she came from, the people that she left behind. But, though some of them don’t welcome her at first, they aren’t trying to hurt her, which is a start. Before long, she is one of their own. That is, until she realises that they are in trouble, more trouble than they had first told her.
The forest sparks are dying out, along with the endangered birds and wildlife of New Zealand. The forest spark that is most in danger is, ironically, the same one that was most disgruntled about a human appearing in the forest (trust me, it’s for a good reason). Can Nissa save her new friend, the kākāpō-kinned forest spark from extinction, while protecting the last chick of the Fiordland kākāpō?
Sonya Wilson has created a magical, imaginative forest wonderland, while keeping obvious ties to Fiordland, and New Zealand in general. I was really pulled into the plot of this book. The last few chapters were incredibly gripping. It was like a moment of truth, and I couldn’t put it down until I was done.
Don’t be discouraged when the book is a bit slow to start off with. I promise, once it gets going, you will really get into it. The only real bad thing about this book (which is kind of more about personal preference), is that the chapters are a bit long for my liking. Other than that, it was an amazing story with a fascinating plot line, and really relatable and believable characters. You might think that I’m a bit weird, thinking that fairies can be realistic, but in Spark Hunter they seem so human, and yet so not. Wilson has really given a new meaning to the word fairy.
Spark Hunter is Wilson’s debut novel, and I certainly hope to see more from her. If you are looking for a book that has a little bit of fantasy, a little bit of adventure, or maybe some environmental themes, then you should definitely read this book. I would recommend this book for maybe 11-13 years old, but really, if it sounds like your kind of thing, go ahead and read it. I hope that you enjoy this book just as much as I did. Happy reading!
- Nell is 13, home-schooled, and lives in Dunedin.