First time novelist Stuart Harrison was born in England and then emigrated to New Zealand, where he worked in marketing. He is married with one child.
Though it contains substitute ingredients, New Zealander Harrison's first novel sticks close to the recipe for success that made The Horse Whisperer a bestseller. Take one wounded animal (a falcon), one emotionally scarred child (Jamie Baker, who hasn't spoken since witnessing his father's death in a hunting accident) and one lonely, attractive woman (Susan, Jamie's mother). Add a wilderness setting (western Canada) and a bird whisperer (neophyte falconer Michael Somers). Blend vigorously until falcon heals, boy speaks and woman loves again. As the novel opens, a rare gyrfalcon, blown from its icebound Northern home by fierce storms, circles the inhospitable skies near Little River Bend. Michael is also a reluctant arrival. Absent from his hometown for two decades, he served a brief prison sentence for an incident "back east" seven years earlier. His reputation, embellished by local gossip, precedes him. Despite a hostile reception, he stays to probe psychic wounds left by his estranged father's death and his mother's suicide. When the falcon is wounded by a poacher, Michael rescues it, takes a crash course in falconry and, after the bird heals, begins training it for its return to the wild. Jamie and Susan, who live next door, become intrigued. Although Harrison laces his story with interesting details about the art of falconry, his narrative style is often awkward and nearly everything the reader might reasonably expect to happen eventually does. The result is a predictable novel that fails to rise above its derivative concept. Major ad/promo; audio rights to Brilliance; rights sold in U.K., Germany, Norway, Holland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Israel. (Feb.)
YA-Michael Somers has returned to his hometown of Little River Bend in western Canada, hoping in vain that residents will forget-or forgive-his criminal past. Released from psychiatric treatment, he hopes to continue the healing process by revisiting his childhood, and especially his relationship with his dead father. In spite of the overt hostility of the townspeople, Michael decides to stay. Then he finds a gyrfalcon wounded by a hunter, and determines to learn falconry so he can nurse it back to health and teach it to hunt again. Jamie, a nine-year-old neighbor, watches his efforts in silence. The child witnessed the death of his father in a hunting accident over a year ago, and has not spoken since. His mother reluctantly allows him to spend time with Michael and Cully, the snow falcon, hoping that her son's fascination with the bird will bring him out of himself. In a harrowing climax, Cully unexpectedly takes flight before her leash is unfastened and tangles herself in the cleft of a high cliff. Michael climbs up to free her; Jamie, below, must call the falcon to his gloved hand so she can be released from the leash and fly free. Michael falls from the face of the cliff, gravely injured, but Jamie finds his voice and calls Cully down and releases her. YAs will be riveted by this tale of humans as much in need of healing as the falcon who brings them together.-Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
This is a beautiful, lyrical ode to a magnificent bird of prey and a novel of forgiveness and redemption. Just released from jail, Michael Somers returns to his hometown in the Pacific Northwest to resolve some serious conflicts from his dysfunctional childhood. Of course, the good citizens shun him. In his wandering he finds an injured gyrfalcon that he hopes to rehabilitate. The strongest and most interesting chapters of this debut novel show Michael learning about falcons and falconry‘an art that he teaches Jamie Baker, the boy next door who hasn't spoken since his father died in a hunting accident. This novel has great elements‘action, adventure, romance, drama, and a teaspoon of sadness and regret. Here's hoping Harrison will write many more wonderful books. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/98.]‘Dawn L. Anderson, North Richland Hills P.L., TX