From the author of Red Dog.
Tom’s been bored for the last few weeks – ever since the Burkes moved to their new house, really, away from all of his friends. But Grandpa just couldn’t go on living by himself on the farm, and Tom’s parents thought it would be best for their family to move into the farm instead of selling it off.
One day Tom decides to go exploring. While out climbing among the bluffs and cliffs he comes across a boy named Justin. They decide to throw in their lot together and conquer the small hills that adjoin their ranches. There’s only one place they’ve both been instructed to avoid – Panther Peak. But surely there are no panthers there… after all, it’s not the 1930s anymore…
When Tom is brought face to face with a black ball of death, will he finally acknowledge that there are still a few panthers around? And will he be able to save his life – and that of his beloved mare?
Tom begins this book at a low point – he’s bored, he’s tired of being tattled on by his sister, and he is generally unmotivated. His grandfather takes the time to sit down with Tom and explain to him the unique geography of the surrounding area and encourages him to go exploring to work off some of his pent up curiosity and energy. After Tom embarks upon this adventure (and meets his new friend, Justin), his relationships and outlook improve. However, the two of them do decide to explore Panther Peak even after they have been warned not to by their parents…
After Tom’s sister falls ill, he shudders to think of all the times he “pestered her when she was on the phone with her new boyfriends.” [pg. 102] He and his grandfather also sit down and pray that Susan will be healed.
Tom, his father, and his grandfather find the carcass of a cow and her calf after they have been attacked by the panther. It’s not very violent – mention is made of blood, but not much else. Later, Tom, his mare, and her foal are stalked by the panther, creating an intense scene.
‘Darn’ is used five times, ‘gosh’ twice, and ‘dang’ and ‘heck’ once each.
Conclusion. Not the best story that’s ever happened, but also not a bad one. It reminded me of The Fear Place, just without all of the relational tension.
Review © 2015 Laura Verret