Monday, 18 December 2017

Book Review - Forever Horse by Jane Ayres







SUMMARY OF STORY
This is a trilogy consisting of 3 shortish novels, following the same characters throughout the trilogy. At the present time the books are only available in this trilogy set as an e-book. If I find out when/if  there may be separate editions or print editions I will add this information later.

Summaries of the 3 stories as follows:

Book 1: ALWAYS IN MY HEART: Piebald cob Logan and his teenage owner Maz share a special bond. Tragedy strikes when Logan is stolen. As he tries to find his way back to his beloved Maz he deeply touches the hearts of two other girls, Sophie and Alice. 

Book 2: HEARTBREAK HORSE: Logan has at last found happiness, but a sinister figure from the past re-appears and puts him in terrible danger. Will the girls who love him lose him for good?

Book 3: THE FOREVER HORSE: Sophie has never forgotten Logan and wonders if she can ever fall in love with another horse. Then she meets traumatised horse Lancelot, who needs her special care and attention. She realised that she has at last found her 'forever horse' until circumstances force her to make a terrible decision. Will she once more lose the horse she loves?

REVIEW

This is a highly emotional and thought-provoking trilogy which centres on the themes of love, lost love and learning to love again. The love here is of girl and horse but it is about love in general, be it for animal or human. My favourite pony stories have always been those about the close bond between girl (or boy) and horse - and this book is all about that bond. It follows three heroines and their special love for their 'forever horses.' As with many stories the girls lose their beloved horses but unlike the usual pony book formula there is not a simple reunion with the lost horse. The author instead prefers a more complex exploration of the situation: what happens if you lose your loved one forever, can you recover from this loss and learn to love again? Can you give up someone you love for a higher purpose? The stories also touch upon jealousy and envy, and learning to let go of these destructive emotions.

The story does not only focus on the feelings of the heroines, we also follow the thoughts and emotions of the various horses in the trilogy, in particular Logan. The author maintains that the horses, as well as their owners, have a deep abiding love for their human companion. We will never exactly understand to what extent animals feel love, loss and longing. If you know animals at all you will not deny that they do feel these emotions, in this trilogy they are shown to have emotions as strong as those of their human counterparts, whether this is to heighten the tension and emotional impact of the story, or is the author's own take on how animals feel, I am not sure. (I tend towards the latter). There is also an interesting sub-plot about the relationship between two of the horses and their own feelings of jealousy and insecurities.

As well as exploring the complex issues of love and loss, the books have good, interesting stories/plots. The three books in the trilogy are actually quite different in style, despite following the same theme. The first book is seen more from Logan's viewpoint, a modern take on the old pony-viewpoint books in the Black Beauty tradition. The second book centres more on the human characters and is more of a teen adventure story with menace and danger thrown in for good measure. The last book in the trilogy is a gentler story about healing a horse and having to face a moral dilemma. The first and last books are the strongest, the middle story feels lighter and more of a filler story, though still a good read.

The three heroines of the story are all very likeable and sympathetic characters. Although they are normal teenagers who like doing normal 'teen things' and competing in various events, their main focus is always on their relationship with their horses and making sure their companions are happy and contented. Animal welfare is also highlighted, with an animal sanctuary featuring in two of the stories.

Anyone who has felt deep love and loss, whether for a human or animal, will find this a highly emotional read, and may find the odd tear or lump in the throat appearing! At times there is deep sadness, but the central message of the story is that the human heart can endure tragedy and loss and yet still learn to love again. It is a very life affirming message - and fear not the trilogy does have an upbeat ending, if not what you may expect when you begin reading the book!

A fantastic read for horselovers of all ages, especially those who have felt that special bond with their 'forever horse.'

All in all I would award 5 horseshoes to the first and last books in the trilogy and 3 horseshoes to the central story.

OVERALL TRILOGY RATING: 5 HORSESHOES (EXCELLENT)

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