Saturday, November 18, 2006
Bonnie Leon's When the Storm Breaks ~ Reviewed
When the Storm Breaks
By Bonnie Leon
Published by Revell
A terrible drought has settled on Thornton Creek and has parched both the land and the strength of all who live there. After a devastating fire eats up most of Douloo and leaves them with barely enough to survive, Daniel and Rebecca Thornton are forced to go to extremes to provide for their growing family.
I've always enjoyed historical fiction, and especially Bonnie Leon's WWII stories, though I admit I haven't read anything written by her in about six years. For some reason When the Storm Breaks didn't excite me very much.
Maybe because it was the third book in a series and I hadn't read the first two? I liked the characters, the setting, the culture in Australia (then called Queensland because it was the 1870s) and the Aboriginal peoples.
However, the conflict wasn't very unique. It was another "western-type"
story where someone was going to lose their land due to harsh conditions.
Then when the bank wouldn't loan the rancher the money, the man went to a loan shark--something like a 19th Century mobster who charged ridiculously high interest and extracted their payment in flesh if it didn't mean their requirements. Then, of course, the cattle must be nearly wiped out so the rancher's means of payment is trashed. Normally that would be a reasonable amount of tension for me, but I've read several stories like that lately, so maybe that's what bugged me.
I did like the spiritual theme in regards to the heroine's witness to the native woman whom she called "friend", though in Queensland that was frowned upon just like whites associating with slaves in the south. Overall it was a good story. I just didn't hold my breath. Ironically, I read the story straight through. I think it's because I kept hoping I would really care about what happened in the story. Yeah, there was a ranch hand who was unjustly hanged. That did get to me a bit. But otherwise the story failed to jerk my heart-chain. At the end of the novel I was disappointed because I wanted to feel more, but then the story was over. So for fans who enjoy historical fiction you may like this one. I thought it was good, just not great.
Michelle Sutton (pen name)
"Writing truth into fiction"