Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Fire Storm, by Lauren St John

(Warning! Contains minor spoilers from The One Dollar Horse and Race the Wind)

Fire Storm is the much-awaited third and final installment in Lauren St John’s One Dollar Horse trilogy. After taking home the trophies from Badminton and Kentucky, can Casey achieve what only one other person ever has: the eventing Grand Slam?

The Burghley Horse Trials are on the horizon, but things at The White Horse Equestrian Centre - the home of Casey, her horse Storm and her coach Mrs. Smith – are not terribly sunny. Casey is talking back to Mrs. Smith like a spoiled teenager, Mrs. Smith’s determination to ignore her illness is getting harder and harder, handsome ‘coach-of-the-moment’ Kyle West is circling like a shark, and while Storm takes a well-deserved holiday, Casey’s loan horse is proving more than a challenge.

When Casey decides to take Kyle on as a coach, little does she know what rocky territory she’s setting sail on: how honourable are Kyle’s intentions? Who is the creepy Ray? And what exactly is going on under the slick and shiney surface of Kyle’s training centre, Rycliffe Manor? Added to this is the return of the abhorrent Anna Sparks – has she turned over a new leaf? Or, given half a chance, will she revert back to her former, snotty ways? The only thing missing – thankfully! (because my little heart really couldn’t have taken any more anguish) – was some sort of disaster involving Casey’s dad, but it seems that he’s now on safe and solid ground. Phew.

Lauren St John brings to Fire Storm all the slick writing, tension and edge-of-the-seat moments she showed us in The One Dollar Horse and Race the Wind. The plot gets thicker and thornier with practically every turn of the page, and it’s full of those ‘Nooo!’ moments where misunderstandings and miscommunications collide. It’s essence is closer to the Race the Wind experience than The One Dollar Horse experience. Given all the things Casey has experienced in the last six months, this is understandable – she is no longer living by quite the same fairytale rules as she was when she first rescued Storm, she’s had to grow up pretty fast, and the whirlwind of her recent victories have had quite an impact on her.

Will Casey remember what really matters in time to piece together all the knots that are coming untied in her life? Will she make it to the Burghley finish line and will it be enough to take her to Grand Slam victory? St John keeps us guessing right up until the last page, so make sure you’ve got plenty of snacks to hand because you won’t want to be going anywhere once you start reading.

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