Taking Chances in the Timber Ridge Riders series is set just before Christmas, so is a good seasonal read. Heroine Kate still needs to ride in one more competition to have any chance of qualifying for the Festival of Horses competition. Unfortunately, an accident means she’s really up against it. As it’s a horse story, it does follow the convention of overcoming physical adversity successfully, but the rest of the plot is readable, funny and perceptive. Best of all, the author has moved away from the model she’s followed in all the previous books, and although arch villain Angela Dean is still present, she doesn’t sabotage Kate, or do her down. Instead, we get to see rather more of Angela’s life, after her mother sells her horse from under her and presents her with another as a fait accompli.
Besides Kate, best friend Holly is present, fizzing with life, and with Kate, plotting their not wholly successful attempts to get their respective parents together. The adults in the book are nicely judged, and it’s particularly good to see boys playing such a large part in a horse story plot too. Brad is doing a good job as Kate’s very good friend, who might be more, and both he, and Adam, Holly’s boyfriend, play a real part of the plot, instead of being characterless add ons.
This is a really enjoyable read: we get to see Kate exploring other worlds, like ski-ing, and parties, and attempting to negotiate the minefields of teenage socialising. What I enjoyed most about this episode in the series was being able to relax and genuinely enjoy it, instead of watching out for predictable plot points. I wanted to find out what happened next, thoroughly enjoyed it when I did, and I’m looking forward to the next episode.
Maggie Dana: Taking Chances
(Timber Ridge Riders, 7)
Age of main character - 14