‘More than anything on earth I’d love to be flying over mad jumps on a horse with wings and competing against the world’s greatest riders, but those kind of things never happen to girls like me.’ So says heroine Casey Blue at the beginning of Lauren St John’s hugely enjoyable horse story. Of course, as we know very well, in the best pony stories those kind of things absolutely do happen.
Casey lives in inner-city Hackney and helps out at the shabby riding school nearby. Walking home one evening with her father, a crazed horse leaps out of nowhere, nearly crushing her. This is Silver Cyclone and he’s on his way to the knackers. Using the dollar bill they had just found in the gutter Casey and her father buy the horse, and she sets about nursing him back to strength. Despite the hardships they face Casey and the renamed Storm Warning will go to the ball – or in this case, the Badminton horse trials!
Lauren St John invests the story with a pace and a passion that prevents it from ever seeming formulaic. Casey is a believable teenager, as stubborn and reckless as her horse. Her relationship with Storm is finely observed and described and readers will lap up the tips on horse lore and care, as we watch them gradually learning to trust each other. The supporting cast of adults are equally interesting and unusual too: Casey’s ex con dad, who is tricked into a terrible betrayal of his daughter; Mrs Smith, her eccentric benefactor; only love interest the blacksmith Peter feels a little wooden, but then how can any mere mortal boy compete in the romance stakes with the glorious Storm!
The One Dollar Horse is certain to be huge favourite with readers and will bear comparison with classic horse stories by authors such as Patricia Leitch and K M Peyton.