Books, Mud, and Compost. And Horses has just published a review of the first three books in the Whinnies on the Wind series!
I have to admit I’m not struck by the name of this series, but if you aren’t either, don’t let that put you off. These are cracking reads. They’re located in the Canadian north, where Evy lives with her mother. They live a life of almost total isolation, occasionally seeing their neighbours, who live a ride away, and who have a daughter, Kestrel, who is Evy’s friend: in fact her only friend, as school is something that happens remotely . And they occasionally see Evy’s mother’s agent (she’s a painter) and that’s it. They live in a cabin, and life is, by urban standards, primitive. Quite why the family live such a cut off existence is the major unanswered question of the series.
I like a story set somewhere I don’t know, and where the author gives you a real sense of what it’s like to live there. It’s very easy for authors to assume you know all the minutiae of daily existence that happen somewhere they’re familiar with, but that’s not an assumption Angela Dorsey makes. Evy and her mother don’t have electricity, central heating, or running water. They have to chop wood to burn in the stove for heat, and when things get really bad, melt snow for water. When they go outside in the winter, they have to put on layer after layer, and it’s still cold. The horses’ barn needs its own heater.
I did wonder about lavatory arrangements, which aren’t mentioned. Presumably there isn’t sewerage, so what happens? Maybe someone familiar with life in the far north can enlighten me.
Into this background of remoteness and isolation, comes Evy and her odd ability. She can talk to horses, telepathically. Most horses’ thoughts she experiences as a cloud of emotion, but some horses can actually talk to her, telepathically. Angela Dorsey succeeds in convincing you that Evy’s abilities are real. They are not a passport into a world of horsey bliss – the-horse-that-only-I-could-ride (because I could talk to it telepathically). Evy’s abilities cause her problems. Her mother reacts badly to any mention of them, and Evy has learned the hard way to hide it whenever she picks up a horse’s thought. Her life is a juggling act: she has the same preoccupations as any teenage girl. She wants friends, and to experience life outside the confines of her family. There is the conflict between pleasing the mother she loves, and starting to make her own way. There is also the pressure to respond to horses’ thoughts, particularly when she senses all is not well with the mustangs who live nearby.
The whole series is an interesting look at a shifting pattern of conflict; and not only is it very well done, the whole makes a rattling good story. I whipped through the three books I have, thoroughly enjoying them all.
The plots are exciting, and the characters are completely believable. If you’re after an involving read with an exotic (to someone sitting in the middle of England) background, you couldn’t do better than these.
Thank you for the awesome review, Books, Mud, and Compost. And Horses!