Review: H C White - A Dark Horse's Quest
As I worked on this book I can't review it, so thank you very much indeed to guest reviewer Sue Howes for standing in. Sue is the author of The Bay Mare, and has had her short stories published in Horse and Pony. She's also contributed guest pieces on self publishing to this blog.
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My first impression on reading the blurb of this book was that it promised to be one of those ‘bonkers’ pony books, like Michael Maguire's Mylor, the Most Powerful Horse in the World, or John Thorburn's Hildebrand. I was intrigued, as I enjoy seeing where authors take their stories when the normal rules of life don’t apply.
Throughout the book I felt as if I were missing something, and now learn that there was indeed a previous book. I would like to read this, to see if Beth, the main human character, comes more to life. I didn’t feel as though I got to know her very well in this book alone. Harry, her talking horse, is another matter! He bounces off the page, a bossy, independent thinker. I think the author has got his voice spot on.
This book avoids many of the clichés prevalent in pony stories. Traditional difficulties, such as finding the money for an impulse buy of a horse at an auction, are not even presented. The only villains are minor characters, who make brief appearances to give Harry the chance to come to the rescue.
However, there are many sections where the author has included some sound advice on horse care and training. Occasionally this does jar a bit with the fantasy elements of the story, particularly in regard to the pace of the plot.
There were several pages on Beth learning how to jump. This was interesting and reminded me a lot of Tattles in Silver Snaffles, and it definitely merited being included in the book. But … only a few lines on what happened at the vet’s? When that episode was dangled under my nose as a prospect, earlier on in the book, I was looking forward to reading about it. I felt cheated, I wanted more!
Since the premise of the story is a fantastical talking horse, I would have preferred more of this, and less of the real world. It’s still an entertaining read, and the ending sets the author up nicely for the next book. I look forward to reading it, and hope it’s even more bonkers than this one.
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Wallisfarm Publishing, 2014, £4.99
Age of main character: 16
Themes: talking horses, adventure, minor romance