Mystery, romance and horses, Ellie Smith
Allen and Unwin
Rainfall is a young adult fiction book written by Ella West, first published by Allen and Unwin in 2018. Ella West is also the author of an award-winning book, Night Vision, which is also a mystery. The novel is set in Westport, New Zealand, between the Buller and Orowaiti rivers, where everyone knows everyone else, but nobody is quite who they seem. Jack and Annie are the main characters of the novel; a crime and mystery book with a touch of romance in this small-town setting. I would recommend this book to those aged 13 to 16 who are horse lovers and love mysteries with blossoming romances. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this book, as it gets really intense around the end and I just got so hooked on what was going to happen next. At first, looking at the book, I thought it was going to be quite a predictable story, but soon found that it wasn’t.
Westport is a small town in the South Island where the author, Ella West, has lived. It is portrayed in her descriptions of the schools and the town layout, the need for the townspeople to protect their own, and the economic situation of the coast. Brunner, Dobson, Strongman, Pike River: these are the ghosts that walk among us. She uses all of this to build a story that brings the West Coast to life. The author also shows her knowledge of horses and rodeos, as she explaining how to ride, how to take care of their hair, and even what food they should eat.
Fifteen year old Annie decides to cycle to her basketball match one day, when she is stopped by a stranger who tells her to go home and stay inside because their neighbourhood is in lockdown with police officers circling her neighbour’s (Pete’s) house. Annie follows his instructions and finds out that Pete had shot up the police station the evening before. The armed offenders squad is there from Greymouth, watching and taking note of the house, when it suddenly explodes, shattering Annie’s window and leaving everybody shocked. Later in the novel, the story becomes full of action and thrills.
After the incident at Pete’s house, Annie regularly takes her horse, Blue, out for a ride and looks for any clues of Pete’s absence. She realises that Pete has stayed in her family’s shed overnight. Annie just wants Pete to be safe, as she feels like she owes him for saving her life when they were young. One day, when Annie rides to the beach following what she thinks are Pete’s footprints, she meets the new boy in town, Jack Robertson. After racing each other along the beach day after day, they became close and fall in love. Their relationship is tested when Annie finds out that Jack is the son of the head police officer and she has to keep secrets from him about Pete. Unexpected events and twists in the storyline add suspense and excitement to the story. Annie and Jack go on a “date” up Mount Rochfort, where they travel through bush and get caught up in sticky situations. Will everybody come out alive?
I really enjoyed reading this book and I am keen to read more of West’s books in the future.
Ellie Smith is a 14-year-old from Tawa, Wellington.