A truly mesmerising tale of strength and trust, Sophie Whittaker
July 13, 2021
“When the world is falling apart, true friends stay together …”
A cheesy quote on the front page, a story involving horses and a setting near Kaikoura. That sounds like an amazing recipe for an eye glinting, relatable and wow-factor novel! It is also written by the one and only Kiwi author of The Forever Horse… Stacy Gregg.
The Thunderbolt Pony is a novel about Evie Violet Van Zwanenberg, a twelve year old girl living in Parnassus, a small town between Cheviot and Kaikoura.
“I feel the pull of my rituals as if they are magnets and I am iron. They don’t want me to let them go.”
Evie is also dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This is when you feel as if you have to repetitively do things over and over again for a certain outcome of feelings or circumstances. In Evie’s instance her OCD causes her to believe that she needs to do different rituals at specific times of the day to keep her family and friends safe. When a deadly earthquake hits her hometown, Evie has to go on an incredible 54-kilometre journey through the wilderness to save her animals. It is a fight against time.
Two minutes past midnight on the 14th of November 2016, a monstrous 7.8 magnitude earthquake strikes Kaikoura, causing havoc on State Highway 1. Two people die and 57 others are treated for injuries. Kaikoura is completely shut off from other towns and cities because of the intense damage the earthquake causes to the road, so people have to be evacuated to Lyttelton on the HMNZS Canterbury.
The Thunderbolt Pony novel includes information about this horrific event and how it impacts the people and their lives drastically.
Stacy Gregg uses her usual writing format to tell readers about the book’s events and characters. She has one chapter about the present and then one about the past, but this time the whole book was only about one character rather than two like in her other novels.
Gregg has a great way of reflecting the trust and friendship between Evie and her pets. She also uses lots of information and facts about Greek gods throughout the book, which tunes in with one of its main settings, Parnassus, which is actually the name of a mountain in Greece.
Predominantly, The Thunderbolt Pony is an interesting and heartwarming book. It shows how the bond of friendship between animals and humans has a significant impact on the outcome of different events. I learnt many new things about Greek mythology and Kaikoura while reading this book.
I would happily recommend it to people who like New Zealand history, animal friendship stories and wilderness novels. The Thunderbolt Pony is a novel that will make you laugh out loud, put you on the edge of your seat and smile.
- Sophie Whittaker is a student at Awahono School on the West Coast.