Strong characters following the light, Luie Townsend
August 2, 2022
‘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.’
As soon as I had finished the first chapter of Spark Hunter by Sonya Wilson I knew that this was going to be a good book.
It starts off with Nissa being taken deer hunting with her dad and family friends. However, instead of killing the stag, she scares it away so that it can’t be killed. When her family goes to leave the Fiordland forest they are in, she spots a light, and tries to follow it.
Her family friend Tama catches up to her and convinces Nissa to stop following the light. Soon after this, Tama transfers to her school, and on a school camp, she sees another light, and manages to follow it. This creates a mess of events, where she has to help save the forest creatures from extinction.
The author of this book is trying to send a message to us, that we should treat nature and the earth with respect. In this story, the patupaiarehe or sparks are in danger of dying due to humankind’s treatment of the environment, and if they die, then the native and endemic plants and animals of New Zealand will die. I like that the book sends this message, as I care about the environment. A part of the book I disliked was how all of Nissa’s friends weren’t really that nice, and were quick to turn on her when Tama told them about her father’s belief that moose are still in Fiordland.
I feel that Nissa is relatable, though most people probably wouldn’t have the same bush experience as her. She is often impulsive and she doesn’t like killing things, both of which I can relate to. She believes that patupaiarehe exist, and doesn’t listen to Tama when he says they aren’t real.
Her friend, Tama, is quite different from her. He is much less impulsive, and is more likely to think through what he is doing. He also is fine with killing things, and doesn’t believe the patupaiarehe exist, so he tries to get Nissa to stop believing in them.
I enjoyed the use of te reo Māori in this book, as I have been learning it at school, and not many books include te reo. The patupaiarehe (sort of like fairies mixed with nature spirits) were very good characters in the novel, and I would like to read more books about them. They reminded me of dryads (Greek tree spirits), and I enjoyed having that comparison for them.
Overall, I think that Spark Hunter by Sonya Wilson is a very good book, with realistic characters and a good message. Nissa is my idea of a strong female lead in a book, and she is a very compelling character to read about. If there is a sequel, I can’t wait to read it! And now, another quote to finish:
‘You are not in nature, Nissa Marshall, you are nature. You are part of this system of life. You always have been, just as we are.’
- Luie is 13 years old and lives in Auckland.