by Karen Bentley
Originally Published: 1996
Mara and Monique bring to you the first joint review! So we're going to try to keep it all straight and the hilarity to an absolute maximum. Because obviously. Just look at the cover.
Mara: Isn't this cover the most unintentionally hilarious thing? The menacing shadow, the rearing horse, the look of shock and horror! I keep expecting Cindy to scream: "Back! Back evil doer!" And another thing: the proportions are all off. Either Cindy has amazingly long legs, is standing on a box, or she's actually taller than Glory. All in all, it's probably the stupidest, not to mention ugliest, cover in Thoroughbred history.
Monique: I just look at her atrocious sweater and I vomit in my mouth a little. Is it that color to blend in with Glory's spew? I don't think Cindy has enough clothes, given the fact that she thinks a 'couple of t-shirts' is enough for a whole month. Maybe she wears them stiff. Also, the man with the syringe? I am egging him on and I hope he gets Cindy instead.
The Plot, brought to you by Mara:Will Glory ever race again?
Cindy Blake's champion Thoroughbred, Glory, is winning every race he enters. With Ashleigh as his jockey, he burns up the track. When he wins an important race by over ten lengths, track official become suspicious. They figure the winning streak can only mean on thing. The horse is being drugged to improve his performance. Then Glory tests positive for dangerous drugs and is disqualified from the race.
Cindy fears that someone wants to put an end to Glory's career. Worse than that, the same drugs that made Glory run faster could also kill him. Cindy must find out who's trying to hurt Glory. But when Cindy starts to investigate, her own life becomes endangered, too!
1. Drugs! Everyone is using them, trying to abstain from them, or in withdrawal from them. Quite a heavy topic for a book shelved in the independent reader section at Borders. So, the thing is Glory is super fantastic. Flightful is just sort of super fantastic. The difference here is great indeed, causing Flightful's trainer (who is not Brad Townsend, so he gets a bit of a reprieve in this book to go be dark, handsome, smoldering, and awesome somewhere else) gets a case of the green eyed monster and hires this vet to drug/kill Glory. Cindy catches the culprit, because naturally it would take a twelve-year-old to do what a whole team of adults and security officials couldn't. Because twelve-year-olds can do anything!
Okay, I've covered the moral of the story. Oh, also: don't do drugs, drug helpless animals, or take out a college loan.
Oddities, brought to you by Mara:
- So, Champion is born. Ashleigh remarks on how strong he is because "most foals can hardly stand up right after they're born." Um, isn't it a fact that if foals don't stand up right after they're born there's something drastically wrong with them?
- Wonder's Pride finally has a sire, guys. It's Townsend Prince. Sure, later on Joanna Campbell stated she'd always meant Baldasar to be Pride's sire, and that's held up as canon, but Townsend Prince? That's some serious inbreeding going on there.
- Okay, let's keep count. The "fastest horses in the world" now include Townsend Princess and March to Glory.
- *cough* Actually, Brad and Lavinia didn't insist on running Princess in the Blue Grass. They didn't pressure anyone to run an injured horse. No one knew Princess was injured. Is it that impossible to remember facts from one book to another?
- Seriously? Mr. Wonderful strains a tendon in April and they're actually considering not running him in the Breeders' Cup in October because of this? Plus, he hasn't even run in anything other than a maiden race yet, which he lost, and they're assuming he's Juvy material?
- Bentley has to degrade Townsend Princess and Mr. Wonderful to make Champion all the better. This has never ceased to annoy me. What else annoys me? The fact that Cindy named him Wonder's Champion.
- Cindy gets called to the principal's office to talk to a reporter about her human interest story involving Glory. Because she's special, damn it. Don't forget, readers! She's special! Not to mention famous! She's a celebrity, and she tells herself this frequently. So she tells the reporter that Glory's abusers got "long sentences" and the reporter replies, "prison's tough these days." Like it wasn't before? This conversation is so absurd.
- Max wishes her and Glory luck in their next race and Cindy brushes it off, saying that they "don't need" it. Glory's so fast, luck is not important!
- I really, really don't remember Rory turning up in this book. He's been off at private school? Sammy runs over to hug him like they're long lost lovers, and somehow Tor has never met him before? This all seems highly unlikely. Then Tor frowns while Cindy wonders if Tor thinks Rory knows more about horses than he does. Uh, Cindy, I don't think that's what he's frowning about. I have this theory that ever since Angelique he's just waiting for Samantha to run off with someone better.
- Now Sierra is the "most promising steeplechaser in the world"(!).
- Ian cautions Cindy to not get a big head about her newspaper article, but his advice goes unheard. Cindy feels smug anyway. Beth reinforces her notion that she's a celebrity and takes her to school because she's too special for the bus. Then Max reinforces it. Then Cindy's teacher reinforces it. Cindy ponders how wonderful it will be to be even more famous after Glory's a champion. The urge to smack Cindy increases.
- Cindy is walking around with Glory and gets too close to Brad's chestnut colt, and then blames Brad for walking his colt to Glory when it reads like Cindy's the one leading her horse straight up to Brad. This is so annoying. If you want to blame certain actions on a character, make it clear that they are actually causing a problem.
- I find it amusing that everyone decides to not tell Mike about their brushes with the Townsends, or they flat out refuse to let him go places that might involve interacting with the Townsends. I keep wondering if Bentley has this fantasy of Brad and Mike beating the crap out of each other over Ashleigh.
- Glory's allowance race is the most piss poor attempt at writing a race scene that I've ever seen. Also, you can't hear a horse's hoofbeats during a race if you're up in the stands on a crowded race day like the Kentucky Derby.
- Aren't privacy fences the sign of lower class people trying to act upper class? If so, why do the Alexanders have one? Couldn't we call it a giant rock wall instead?
- Glory has a half-brother! Oh, let the world shout its joy! Only, the thing is this foal is out of a mare who is not Glory's dam. The only claim to fame of this mare is she's by Just Victory. This is like a minor and insignificant relation in the real world.
- Ben tells Cindy that she knows how much it costs to run Whitebrook. Um, no. I'm fairly confident she doesn't have a clue.
- Who the hell drives a trailer of racehorses through Manhattan?
- The stupidest idea in the history of Thoroughbred: Cindy wonders if she has time for a little nap in Glory's stall. Because sleeping in hay on the backside of a racetrack is so freaking comfortable, right?
- Bentley is so bad at writing race scenes. Just, so bad. Everyone is talking to describe the action, which never happens, Glory is using himself up early in every race but somehow wins going away, and it would appear that Flightful's jockey has no idea that a crop is a strategic aid.
- I find it amusing that Max's mom drives into New York City to go sightseeing and then parks "near" the Empire State Building. God forbid these people ever take mass transit.
- I really doubt the crowd would boo Shining after Glory was disqualified for testing positive. This is the betting public here, which isn't the best crowd to set the moral high bar.
- A horse usually has to finish up the track in order to say it "didn't fire." Shining finished second. A neck back in second. She just lost, okay? Say it with me, Ashleigh. Shining lost. One more time: Shining lost. Okay. Now we can move on.
- First Whitebrook has had a bunch of big winners and now they're in financial trouble, so it's important to keep Shining racing in the big races. My are we forgetful.
- Holy crap, a Whitebrook horse came in last. I just feel this should be documented.
- Finally Cindy gets to sleep in Glory's stall for the night. At a racetrack. With a person sneaking around with access to heroin and (possibly dirty) hypodermic needles. Does this sound like great parenting or what? I bet you somewhere Cindy's child welfare agent is developing a nervous tick.
- Great, now Cindy and Max are practically having a slumber party in Glory's stall. Who's going to appear with their sleeping bag next? Tor? Caroline? Brad?
- Ooh, a black gloved hand is trying to hurt Glory! Again I'm reminded of every soap opera ever made.
- "Put down the hypodermic nice and slow." Oh, this just kills me. Jim then throws the hypodermic down and it shatters, which from all I can tell is impossible. The needle itself is stainless steel and the syringe is always plastic unless he's got some weird glass syringe he needs for conducting quantitative chemical analysis or something distinctly non-veterinary or illicit drug use oriented.
- The reason behind it all: Jim is the son of the guy that abused Glory. He targeted Cindy and Glory in some sort of ill conceived attempt at payback. Yes, it's deranged and makes little sense. Also, it reminds me a little of Scream. Just without the blood, knives, guns, sex and drunkenness.
- Um, okay, the second reason behind it all: college loans! Oh, and Flightful's trainer is a poor sport.
- And we end it with another mediocre race scene. The talking really needs to stop.
Oddities, brought to you by Monique:
- I just ADORE how Cindy is the Official Horse Namer of Whitebrook. I mean, Rainbow and Four Leaf Clover are such catchy, grand names after all.
- Rory! Sigh. I love the whole anti-Tor vibe. Of course, that might just be me.
- Is it just me, or is hearing Cindy's inner thoughts about everything getting seriously old?
- Ah! Max also wears dark green. Perhaps he and Cindy match deliberately.
- If I was a vet and I was putting a horse down, I'd also give it to a 12 year old to hold. Because that just makes so much sense.
- Ms. Bentley seems to think tossing in big names for veterinary drugs is impressive. I can also use Google, darling. Also, how does Cindy have this knowledge? And why? She's 12. Does she not have fun?
- Joe Gallagher is this book's Brad Townsend. Only ugly.
- I really like the name Flightful. It is about the best thing about this book.
- When Shining loses, Cindy blames Ashleigh and Ashleigh blames herself. Lets just forget about her slip in the gate and Ashleigh nearly falling, shall we?
- I also talk to horses that are far away telepathically in my mind. It works, I tell you.
- Whitebrook has this new-found obsession with winning.
- Beth. is. the. most. useless. character. ever.
- Oh, when I write a book, all my characters will state the obvious too, and make it seem like a big deal. "Oh, look, Glory! The sky is blue! Wow!"
- When Glory is freaking out, I would so have given him to Len to handle and not Cindy. But, I clearly don't have their undying faith in her awesome talents.
- Glory breaks out the gate badly and Ian goes, "I suppose it had to happen sometime." Head, this is desk. Desk, meet head.
- Foreshadowing! Ashleigh has nausea and headaches! Um gee, I wonder why?
Monique: Onward to Ashleigh Gets Knocked Up and Ruins Glory's Chances of Victory as he Cannot Run For Any Other Jockey. AKA Ashleigh's Farewell. I am so excited.