Friday, March 6, 2009

Horse Stories

I finished Airs Beneath the Moon by Toby Bishop, after having read all through lunch, and from about 6pm tonight until 10pm, minus time to eat a sandwich, then later take a shower and put on my pajamas. In a minute I'll turn off the light and get some sleep, since alas, I have to work tomorrow. But at least I read a good book today.

It was good, but it would have been a lot better if the loathsome bad guy had died screaming at the end. It's such an obvious set-up for a sequel that I am a little resentful, although not so resentful that I'm not about to hop on over to Amazon.

Now, I have read a bajillion horse stories in my life, from Marguerite Henry to, well, Toby Bishop now. Airs Beneath the Moon hits on a lot of the tropes that make the horse story so appealing: girl finds a horse, girl keeps a horse she is not supposed to have, the horse with extraordinary ability/breeding, the horse that can only be controlled by one person, girl and her horse mocked by uppity rich girls who will have to eat their words later, and so forth. But the odd thing is that this isn't a book for kids--although I certainly would have loved it in middle school. It's a well-crafted fantasy with more than a little in common with Anne McCaffrey's Pern books, especially the Harper Hall trilogy. I liked those too in middle school. This book, though, is a lot better written than McCaffrey's books. And while I find it more than a little creepy that Butler's winged-horse riders are all girls who have to remain virginal or their horses will refuse them (which I won't go into as it would turn into a very very long rant indeed), it works within the story.

Verdict: I liked the book, but it's not perfect. The perfect horse story may very well be a completely forgotten book called Sabre, the Horse from the Sea by Kathleen Herald, published by Acorn Books in 1963, which I plan to reread for the millionth time tomorrow.


Cate Gardner said...

Oh you make me feel so guilty, I ordered a pile of books from Amazon yesterday but I just don't seem to be doing much reading at all at the moment.

K.C. Shaw said...

I've got a full shelf now stuffed with books I want to read but haven't gotten around to. If I don't make inroads into them I'll soon have to stack the new ones on the floor!

I go through phases where I don't want to do a lot of reading. Right now I'm in a reading phase, it seems.