Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Review: Angela Dorsey - Whinnies on the Wind series

Angela Dorsey: Whinnies on the Wind series
Winter of the Crystal Dances
Spring of the Poacher's Moon
Summer of Wild Hearts

All published by Enchanted Pony Books at £6.99 in pb, £2.01 Kindle

Thank you to the author for sending me copies of these books.



I have to admit I'm not struck by the name of this series, but if you aren't either, don't let that put you off. These are cracking reads. They're located in the Canadian north, where Evy lives with her mother. They live a life of almost total isolation, occasionally seeing their neighbours, who live a ride away, and who have a daughter, Kestrel, who is Evy's friend: in fact her only friend, as school is something that happens remotely . And they occasionally see Evy's mother's agent (she's a painter) and that's it. They live in a cabin, and life is, by urban standards, primitive. Quite why the family live such a cut off existence is the major unanswered question of the series.


I like a story set somewhere I don't know, and where the author gives you a real sense of what it's like to live there. It's very easy for authors to assume you know all the minutiae of daily existence that happen somewhere they're familiar with, but that's not an assumption Angela Dorsey makes. Evy and her mother don't have electricity, central heating, or running water. They have to chop wood to burn in the stove for heat, and when things get really bad, melt snow for water. When they go outside in the winter, they have to put on layer after layer, and it's still cold. The horses' barn needs its own heater.


I did wonder about lavatory arrangements, which aren't mentioned. Presumably there isn't sewerage, so what happens? Maybe someone familiar with life in the far north can enlighten me.

Into this background of remoteness and isolation, comes Evy and her odd ability. She can talk to horses, telepathically. Most horses' thoughts she experiences as a cloud of emotion, but some horses can actually talk to her, telepathically. Angela Dorsey succeeds in convincing you that Evy's abilities are real. They are not a passport into a world of horsey bliss - the-horse-that-only-I-could-ride (because I could talk to it telepathically). Evy's abilities cause her problems. Her mother reacts badly to any mention of them, and Evy has learned the hard way to hide it whenever she picks up a horse's thought. Her life is a juggling act: she has the same preoccupations as any teenage girl. She wants friends, and to experience life outside the confines of her family. There is the conflict between pleasing the mother she loves, and starting to make her own way. There is also the pressure to respond to horses' thoughts, particularly when she senses all is not well with the mustangs who live nearby.

The whole series is an interesting look at a shifting pattern of conflict; and not only is it very well done, the whole makes a rattling good story. I whipped through the three books I have, thoroughly enjoying them all.


The plots are exciting, and the characters are completely believable. If you're after an involving read with an exotic (to someone sitting in the middle of England) background, you couldn't do better than these.

6 comments:

Goldielover said...

Jane, without electricity, the most likely sanitary facility would be an outhouse. If they'd had electricity, then a septic tank would have been the usual system in a rural area. (My parents have one.) There are still places like that in the far north, but they are the exception these days. Most would have at least a diesel powered generator.

Val , Kate, The Cute Kitten ,Razzy, Kepsey,Darwin ,Charon and Echo. said...

Look here ...
http://tinyurl.com/932mx3z
or here
http://tinyurl.com/98ymz9m

Basically as Goldielover says if you're on the grid and are insulated against the cold then conventional plumbing works fine..for basic cabins or even rather nice ones that are used infrequently then the out house route is safer :0)

Must check out this author for my two THANKS!

Jane Badger said...

Thanks. How did the outhouse work? Did you dig out the muck after a certain point? Or build another outhouse elsewhere or was that not necessary?

Christine said...

More books to add to my wish list! Thanks for the review. I agree, an author that can place you in an environment you wouldn't previously know does a great job!

Jane Badger said...

Thanks Val - that was fascinating (and I found a blog piece on conditions in Alaska which explains a lot).

Christine, I hope you enjoy the books as much as I did.

Goldielover said...

Jane, an outhouse can last for many years, but it does need a bit of care. Again, we had one at our summer place when I was a kid. Dad had to add stuff on a regular basis to help speed up the composting process, and control the odour. And yes, after a number of years the pit either had to be re-dug, or moved. My parent's one was built in 1968, and has been re-dug once, but it only gets summer use. A year round one would need to be done more often.