Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Fire - Jennifer Walker

Author: Jennifer Walker
Date: 2010
Setting: The present, near Nevada City, CA
Availability: In the anthology Elements of the Soul

Story: A young woman, Heather, has agreed to care for some of a friend's horses. Her friend, Sharon, is attending a horse show, with part of her stable. It is an oppressively hot and dry summer. When Heather and another friend, Christine, head toward the ranch to do the chores they realize that there is a fire burning in the general direction of the ranch. The closer they get, the more they realize that the fire is really close, and the horses will have to be evacuated.

With information from the local radio station, Heather learns that animals are being taken to the fairgrounds, but it is 10 miles from the ranch, there are four horses to move, and Sharon has the horse trailer with her. She knows that somehow she must lead the animals to safety. Christine tries to find a trailer to come pick up the Heather and the animals, while Heather tries to beat the fire as it comes over the ridge toward the road.

Commentary:Walker knows horses, and this is not a wild ride to safety such as you might see in a B movie. There is real tension as Heather tries to get the group of horses to cooperate and be led together. She is forced to ride one of them bareback, which becomes very uncomfortable for both her and the old horse, Bella. Heather has a real love for Bella, as she learned to ride on her, when they both were younger. Will they beat the fire?

This is a straightforward story of suspense with "man" against nature. There are sub-themes of friendship, loyalty, and honoring of promises.

Author info: Jennifer Walker (see AuthorJennWalker.com) has been published in Modern Arabian Horse, Arabian Horse Times, and Sierra Style. Her first novel for young adults, Bubba Goes National, was published in January 2010. You can read a review of Bubba Goes National at Shared Reviews.

Language skills 8
Depth of meaning 7


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