I haven’t read a ‘Cowboys and Indians’ story since I was nine: one of my best friends was obsessed with The Indian in the Cupboard series. Then, two weeks ago I found a book in the library with the intriguing title ‘Sierra Brulante’ [Burning Sierra]. It was published locally and so I thought I’d support a local author by reading his work.
It also ties in nicely with the We Want YOU (to read French books) challenge
Mr. Walker, the most powerful man in a small, New Mexican town is found dead by his son. Three Native Americans, a man, wife and their son have run away, taking two of his horses. Suspicion quickly falls on them and Mr Walker Junior tries and pronounces them guilty in their absence. His hatred of them seems to go beyond a quest for justice. He calls upon all the able-bodied men in town to help to find and kill the supposed murderer but few want to participate in the search. Mr Walker Sr. seems not to be missed by the other townsfolk…
Dylan Stark is passing through the town from Arkansas on the way to settle out in California. Tempted by the thousand dollar bounty that Walker has placed on the head of the male runaway, he quickly heads out into the desert in the hope of catching him. Or so he tells the other bounty hunters.
Will Dylan Stark kill a man who may be innocent or will real justice be carried out?
For the age group that it’s targeted at, it’s a good read. It deals with issues such as racism, segregation and loyalty very well. The main villain, Mr. Walker is sadistic and thoroughly bad with no redeeming qualities and the hero, Dylan Stark does oscillate from a bit flat to mildly tortured about his (mixed-race) heritage. That is not to say that the characters are badly written; they’re OK but they aren’t ground-breakingly different from other good or bad guys in the genre. Most of the other characters are more nuanced, especially Stark’s side-kick.
The style is another strong point: when Pelot writes about the burning sun and walking over torturous dust that burns the feet, you feel every detail that he describes as you walk through the desert with the characters. When he writes about racial issues, you squirm.
Sierra Brulante is a good novel for younger readers, especially those who enjoy reading about the USA ‘back in the day’. Whilst I’m not crazily in love with it, I’m interested enough to want to read the next two books in the series.
Wild Night In’s Verdict? Wavering towards WIN!