Written by Malcolm Brooks
Review by Jo Ann Butler

It’s 1936, and Montana’s winter is closing in when fourteen-year-old Houston “Huck” Finn completes a glider based on the Wright brothers’ successful model. Towed by a friend in a “borrowed” car, baby buggy wheels get Huck’s glider into wobbly flight before collapsing on Big Coulee’s ball field. When the town’s marshal arrives, Huck already has his next craft in mind; one with an engine. Roy Finn couldn’t be prouder of his son’s ambition and grit, and hires 22-year-old Yakima McKee as a mechanic for his repair shop. Yak is so skilled that Huck wonders whether his father intended him to help build a flight-worthy airplane.

The frame is coming along nicely in the back of Roy’s shop when Huck’s cousin arrives. Annelise Clutterbuck, recently turned eighteen, sulked all the way from Los Angeles into exile at her Uncle Finn’s ranch. Annelise isn’t actually in a fix after an illicit romance with her flying teacher, but her parents want her to finish high school far, far away. When she discovers the plane, she dives right in. So does Yak, who also uses his sidewise charm on Annelise.

Bestselling author Malcolm Brooks presents lucky readers with this, his second novel. Brooks has a light, humorous touch with characters of all ages; his storytelling is taut and suspenseful, and he deftly balances Houston, Annelise, and Yak’s soaring achievements with pursuit by a gang of murdering thieves.

Cloudmaker is a story of flight; not from, but toward. Houston reaches for the sky with both hands, while Annelise is swayed by love even as she builds self-confidence and puts her own abilities to the test. Will Houston’s plane prove a declaration of independence for them both? I highly recommend Cloudmaker.