Monday, 26 December 2011


Brumbies by Paula Boer, illustrated by Rowena Evans (IFWG Publishing)
ISBN -978-0-646-56641-2
PB RRP $15
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie

Paula Boer's Brumbies is the first in a five-part series set in the Snowy Mountains of Australia where wild brumbies roam the National Parklands. Such is their numbers that authorities are forced to cull by mustering the horses for the sales yards. Unfortunately, most end up in the pet food market.

The two young protagonists, Louise, a city girl just moved to the country, and Ben, a farm boy, are keen to save at least some of them and plan to hold a muster of their own before high school resumes. When the teenagers happen upon part of a herd and see a buckskin and a colt they would love to capture for themselves, the personal element really kicks in.

Any young horse-lover will be thrilled with this novel, and I certainly relived my fascination with horses as a young girl. This is no pony club story, nor purely an entertaining adventure story - it is an education in riding, mustering, and breaking-in horses told in great and fascinating detail with the authority of Paula's experience as a horsewoman. It is this detail that sets Brumbies apart from the usual pony read. The problem-solving is especially intriguing to those who have never belonged to the horse world, and here again, Paula's expertise provides answers that, without first-hand experience, would be very difficult to portray.

Brumbies draws the reader into a different world, one populated by Australian birds and fauna, and the rigours of riding in the Snowy Mountains. Although maybe a little overly-descriptive for some readers, I personally felt any small flaws were not worth a mention in the joy of experiencing a truly inspiring Aussie adventure story told with such passion and truth. You want Louise and Ben to succeed, you understand their determination to win through and you suffer alongside them when things go wrong.

Brumbies includes a Glossary which will be most helpful to readers, especially those who are not familiar with Australian slang terms.

Rowena Evans' illustrations complement the story and the cover, with its pen and wash depiction of a herd of brumbies on a background of vivid green, is very attractive. Her engaging black and white drawings and maps are scattered with great effect throughout this excellent novel.


  1. This is definitely on my to read list. I have a copy of Paula's 'The Okapi Promise' which I'm about to start reading. I'm definitely looking forward to reading 'Brumbies'

  2. Hi Jeffrey,

    Thanks for dropping by Buzz Words Books. This is on my to-read list too.

  3. A great review Vicki - Paula's understanding of horses really shows through in this evocative story.


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