by Allison Estes
Original Publication: 1998
Yes, indeed. Here we are. I know I have been slacking and I personally find it bordering on tragic that it took me a whole week to read this book. It's sad when life gets in the way of my TB time...
Onward to the review!
She's his last hope...Ever since 13-year-old Melanie Graham was sent to live with her aunt Ashleigh and uncle Mike at Whitebrook Farm, she's struggled for a way to fit in. Everything she does is wrong. She doesn't get along with her cousin Christina and riding racehorces is nothing like riding back in New York. Then she sees Pirate's Treasure. The powerful black stallion has incredible potential. But he's also unpredictable--and dangerous. Then he's retired from his racing career and turned out to pasture. Soon he begins to lose his will to live. Can Melanie break through Pirate's distrust and prove to everyone he has the heart of a champion?
Mmmkay. This is one of the poorest blurbs ever written. There was a bit more to the book than this, like... Milky Way? And Melanie never really did much riding in the book, but anyway. I can't be too fussy. At least the animal depicted on the cover really does look like Pirate. It's the right colouring! And it even looks like a Thoroughbred too, not some Quarter Horse posing as a stand in.
Melanie is a horse-crazy New York girl with a slightly bitchy best friend, Aynslee. She has a rebellious streak and the two girls decide to sneak out one night and go for a moonlit ride in central park. Things go awry, however, when Melanie and her favorite horse, Milky Way, are involved in an accident. Milky Way gets killed and Melanie has a dislocated shoulder. It's bad enough her mother is dead, now her father sends her off to Whitebrook Farm, the worst place on earth with her hick cousin, Christina.
We have the typical TB scenario where Mel swears she will never ride or get attached to another horse again. However, this is slightly different as she feels that she's just plain old bad luck. So, of course being on a Thoroughbred farm is pure hell for our young heroine.
There is instant friction between her and other characters and she just refuses to cooperate in case they actually think she likes it there. But, her father is occupied with his girlfriend and work and her best friend wants nothing to do with her.
Melanie then starts working with Pirate, but he is erratic for reasons that no one can figure out. After several bad accidents, Pirate ends up wounded and they decide the best thing to do is to geld him. So, poor Pirate sinks into equine depression while he recovers. I wonder if he was aware that his whole reproductive future is now nullified.
Taking pity on him, Melanie starts sneaking visits to his paddock. She slowly starts riding him and one day, tries to jump him over a log. (Christina should have told her beforehand that jumping a green racehorse over a log is never a smart idea.) As it turns out, this works out as Mel discovers that Pirate is blind!
Melanie then gets Pirate as he is useless as a racehorse and they become the new pony girl/horse team at Whitebrook! Yay!
- As a character, Mel is the most spunky, different girl in the entire series. I felt sad that the authors couldn't keep up her interesting traits. Like her interest in art.
- Faith is still a chestnut.
- Aynslee is a bitch. If I had a friend like that, I would really question why.
- Christina acts like a total, immature little girl in this book, just enhancing my overall liking of Melanie. "Don't touch her!!!" Why oh why would Melanie not be able to touch Sterling? The horse is fine. Let her be exposed to other people, you stupid 12-year-old.
- Kevin is also characterized nicely. Shame. It seems that all the fun Estes injected into the dynamic between the Whitebrook kids died a horrible, painful death come book #36.
- Both Anna Simms and Naomi get injured in this book due to Pirate. I guess they are pretty screwed for jockeys for a few months.
- Estes is damned good at conversation.
- It's nice to see that some research was actually done into the racing world. I have to commend Estes for that too. And for not giving the horses Pirate raced against names of any kind, let alone stupid ones.
- We got a description of Melanie's room, complete with quilt! Wow!
And I am done. On to the pain that is Sterling's Second Chance, in which we learn that, sometimes, it's better to just hit the horse, rather than have our arm broken and deal with our mare's issues with water.