Monday, April 6, 2020

Book Review: 'Opal: A Poodle's Journey Home (Bloodsong Series Book 5)' by Sandy Nathan

Opal by Sandy Nathan

Out of ashes…

California author Sandy Nathan earned a Master’s Degrees in Economics and Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling. She was a doctoral student at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and has been an economic analyst, businesswoman, and negotiation coach, as well as author. Her writing has won thirty national awards, having written some fifteen novels. OPAL is Book Five of her Bloodsong Series.

But perhaps more poignant to her gifts as a writer is her personal life experiences of a riches to rags to success life she has journeyed. As she has stated, ‘I've seen and lived the over-privileged existence I describe in the Bloodsong Series. I've seen how it can warp those who are lost in it. I've seen how the power of money can mask mental illness and allow evil to ruin lives.’

Sandy’s ability to comingle history with the raw language of today truly helps this fifth book of the BLOODSONG SERIES. As she mentions, ‘When Bloodsong Series laid out in my mind originally, it started with a trilogy about the richest man in the world meeting a great Native American shaman. Their lives intersect at a huge spiritual retreat the shaman holds every year in the New Mexico desert.’ And it is precisely this admixture of paranormal and reality oriented writing that makes her work sing. And noting that this is Book 5 and that there are more installments coming speaks well for her success.’

In OPAL: A POODLE’S JOURNEY HOME Sandy provides an apt summary or progression of events: ‘Cait and Thad Cummins fled the high prices and craziness of San Francisco to breed designer dogs in the California foothills. They found their dream in an idyllic little town called Paradise. Thad bought dogs while Cait transformed their rundown, Victorian mini-mansion into a farm-style masterpiece. Thad got a little carried away buying dogs. He bought twelve instead of the four they planned on. He couldn’t pass up the magnificent Grand Champion Standard Poodle, Opal. That was the beginning of the end. Expenses climbed and their enchanting farm in the woods lost its shine. Plus, Opal carried baggage. The manager of the fancy kennel where Thad got her warned that she had bitten people and was a legal liability to her owners. “She could be put down as a vicious dog.” Thad and Cait knew they could overcome Opal’s aggressiveness, with time. Couldn’t they? The Camp Fire of 2018 turned Paradise into an inferno. Thad and Cait’s heaven became a blazing firestorm. The survivors had to fight their way back from a horrific natural disaster, braving loss and pain. Through it all, Opal struggled to find her destiny and be the dog she was born to be. Would she ever find her true home?’

Paradise – the obliteration of that little town by the fire of November 8, 2018, known as The Camp Fire – is the setting for this tough little novel. The manner in which Sandy conveys that dark moment in many ways pays homage to the human spirit. This is a new and very fine gritty novel from a writer of significance.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.