Saturday 16 October 2010

Mustang Mountain: Fire Horse

Mustang Mountain: Fire Horse by Sharon Siamon (Egmont)
PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 978-1-4052-4307-0
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

                   This exciting series is about horses and the people who love and work with them. It is set in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta on Mustang Mountain. The main characters are cousins Becky and Alison, and their friend Meg, a horse lover, who has been invited to spend the summer at their ranch.

                   The plane carrying the girls along with a horse named Silver is forced to land close to the ranch. Meg helps the terrified animal from the plane and a bond is formed between the two, for they have something in common. They are both out of place in their surroundings. But a badly injured tendon in Silver’s foreleg puts his hopes of becoming a champion jumper in jeopardy. Meg is given an opportunity by the owner to heal the mare before a decision is made about her future. A generous offer of free treatment and feed from Laurie, Becky’s mother and a farrier, comes as temporary relief to Meg who is determined to keep the horse from becoming dog food.
                   A shoeing accident threatens Laurie’s life and Becky’s old fear and resentment of horses is reborn. Far from everything in a place where cars and trucks are forbidden, and where the only exit is by horse or helicopter, the three girls are left alone to care for the horses. But when Alison leaves the corral gate open and Silver and Laurie’s horse Windy escape, the girls set out to retrieve them. They meet with unexpected opposition in the form of a wild red mustang that has called the two mares to join his ever-growing band of runaways.

                   Then reports come in of a cougar sighting. This puts everyone on alert but ends in tragedy. Added are the wild fires and Meg’s fears for Silver and his damaged leg. Can Becky get her mother’s horse back from the mustang’s herd? There are many challenges that the three must face, along with the problems involving the other primary characters that weave through the background. These challenges free the girls from many preconceptions, fears and vanities that have disabled their true potential up to that point.

The greatest test comes when they are forced to trust the wild mustang to lead them out of the bushfire that threatens all their lives.

                   A well-written adventure story set in a location that juxtaposes the power of the elements and the characters of the humans which mature and evolve by the end of the story. It presents a view of the communication possible between animals and people, and the respect necessary for the environment.

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