Venus Spring: Stunt Girl
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Venus Spring, as her name rather clumsily announces, is a talented athlete. Her West Indian grandfather, Dennis, is a well-known stunt coordinator for the film industry and Venus has inherited his abilities. When 14-year-old Venus persuades her protective mother to allow her to attend a special stunt camp run by Dennis, it soon becomes clear that she has also inherited more than her fair share of her grandfather’s daring and chutzpah.
At first, Venus is kept busy establishing that she really is at the camp on merit and with making new friends – not least with the very attractive Jed. Soon, however, her attention is caught by the suspicious behaviour of Franco, another of the camp’s students. She determines to track his movements. Why is he sneaking off site at night, which is strictly forbidden, and who is the stranger he meets secretly at the local pub, the Bear and Fox? When animals on a nearby farm start to die from a mysterious outbreak of disease, Venus is sure Franco is somehow involved, if only she could obtain proof. Both Jed and Kate, Venus’ confidante in London, urge her to abandon her quest and inform the authorities, but Venus is determined to continue alone.
After a shaky start in the first few chapters in which Venus’ family background is baldly summarised, this story becomes genuinely gripping. Characterisation is restricted largely to a list of attributes and dialogue rarely rises above standard issue teen-speak, but the story is strongly plotted, solidly underpinned by Zucker’s research into the stunt business. Venus is a refreshingly feisty and stubborn heroine, whose good intentions inadvertently lead her to ambivalent results. The story continues to build suspense right up to its deliberately inconclusive end, which lays the ground for a sequel. CH