Bibliophile: Paruku by Jesse Blackadder

ParukuParuku The Desert Brumby

by Jesse Blackadder

ABC Books

Jesse Blackadder’s book ‘Chasing the Light’ was one of my favourite reads for 2013. Fascinated by landscapes and belonging and she has the ability to take actual events and weave an interesting story around the historical details. ‘Chasing the Light’ took the reader to Antarctica with the first women to set foot on the white continent.

This time Blackadder, who was horse-mad as a child, takes her story to the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Many of the wild brumbies of the area are descended from Arabian and thoroughbred horses that were released in the 1950s and 1960s to improve the quality of the stockhorses.

In 2008, an arrangement with the indigenous owners meant that fourteen brumbies were caught by an Australian vet who was working for an Arabian Sheik and were flown to a new home in Dubai.

After travelling to Dubai and the Kimberley for research, Blackadder has created a coming of age story about twelve year-old Rachael. Usually living in the shadow of her older sister Cassie, Rachel gets the chance to go with her father to capture the wild horses with Arabian bloodlines from the remote desert location.

While magnificent, the growing herds of wild horses are very destructive for the environment. Nevertheless, Rachael struggles with taking away their freedom and is particularly protective of a young stallion that has been named Paruku. Rachel, who is too big for her Welsh mountain pony, even harbours a hope that she can keep Paruku for herself.

Blackadder has created a moving blend of fact and fiction that is an easy read for young adults and big people as well.

Lezly Herbert