Lundy Annie, with Jenny's Cove in the background

Photo from Victoria Eveleigh’s website

Victoria Eveleigh – “A Stallion Called Midnight”

(Kindly sent to me by the publishers, Orion)

I “met” Victoria via Twitter as a result of my re-reading of “My Friend Flicka” and was thrilled to be able to publish a guest post on her journey from self-published to published author. She kindly asked her publisher to send me a review copy of her newly published book, “A Stallion Called Midnight” after I confessed my pony book obsession. I had liked the look of her stories, and another reviewer who I rate had also praised the original, self-published, version, so this was a fairly guaranteed good read … but you never know until you get the book open and start reading … and only stop because it’s way after breakfast time and you really do have to do some work!

For all the lovers of traditional pony books out there – i.e. girl/boy meets pony, wants pony, has to struggle to get/tame/rescue pony, learns lessons, some kind of good result comes out even though it’s not quite what was expected (pot-hunting nemesis de rigueur), rather than the current crop of pink / sparkly / magical / talking horse stuff, then this author is for you.

Set in the 1960s on the island of Lundy, this is a charming but realistic story of Jenny. We meet her when she thinks she has already tamed the stallion, Midnight, leader of the wild native horses on the island (remember your Native Ponies Of The British Isles, pony fans?) and is facing up to being sent over to the mainland for school. She’s being raised by her Dad (and the rest of the island) after a family tragedy, and is dreading being pulled away from all that she loves. She’s also a bit worried about what will happen to Dad when she’s away. So, this is a school story as well as a pony story (hooray) as the setting of a girls’ school with its cliques and social positions is beautifully portrayed, too – and lessons are learned at school as well as around ponies, but it is far from being didactic or patronising.

Jenny is a realistic heroine, brought down to earth by her Dad (he tells her she’s not in one of her pony books at one stage, which I thought was a charming touch). There are coincidences, but being set in a small world, these are not unbelievable (I’ve come across so many links among the 1 million inhabitants of my city, that I have no doubts that the world of North Devon and Lundy are even more closely intertwined) and the outcome of the story is believeable and refreshing without being too pat or annoying. Human relationships are real, trying, comforting and understandable, with a hint of romance which is handled deftly and calmly, and it’s just basically a jolly good read.

I’m going to be ordering Victoria’s Katy Trilogy, which is available now, and looking forward to her new trilogy, centred around a boy hero, coming soon. I’m so pleased to have found a new pony book author, and one who is still producing books, and I can’t wait to read the rest of them!