Ahoy there me mateys! Though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes. So occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were. Here is:
taos lightning (Johnny D. Boggs)
This be a western audiobook that I borrowed from a local library. Westerns are not me thing, unless they are stories about the relationships between horses and rider. Horses were me first love before the sea stole me heart. Some of me favourite books as a kid were the Black Stallion series, black beauty, Marguerite Henry’s horse books, and of course the western, smokey the cowhorse by Will James which won the 1927 Newbery Medal.
So when I read the blurb for this book, it made me feel nostalgic and I thought I would give it a shot. This book follows 15 year old Evan Kendrick. His father has entered an 1800 mile horse race with a prize purse of $3000. Their horse is Taos Lightning, a half-broke mustang stallion. Days before the race is scheduled to take place, Evan’s father is gravely injured and cannot ride. Evan will have to take his place and attempt to win the race. The stakes are high and if they don’t win, father and son will lose everything.
Now the horse race in this was super cool in concept and execution. The race is set to be run from Texas to New England. However, no one except the race organizers know the route. The race is run in stages. When the rider gets to the next check point they receive the location of the next stop and a map of possible trails. Also they are only allowed to ride 10 hours a day because of animal right’s groups like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Railroads, ferries, and telegraphs all play a part in the execution of the race. I loved the blending of old technology (the horse) and the newer technology. The race was sponsored by the newspapers to sell papers. This race was odd because there wasn’t a ton of excitement about the race itself as only the last couple of days would really determine the winner. The story was more about Evan’s growth and experiences.
The other two main characters besides Evan were Arena Lancaster, an 18 year old girl who likes her drink, and Dindie Remo, a Negro Seminole Indian scout. Evan also gets help along the way from a veterinarian, named Patrick Jack. I enjoyed all of these characters and their impacts on the story.
While I thought the story was fun and the audio narration by Michael Crouch was pleasant, the story did have some issues. The story was hard to get into and the accident with the father was particularly confusing. I thought that overall the story really didn’t start to coalesce until the race started. Plus there was a plot hole involving the dad. If the dad was going to ride the race and they had no money, who was going to take care of Evan while the dad rode for 45 days or more? Also the subplot with the father was resolved abruptly and used basically as a plot point for some angst in the middle of the race.
Also while Evan was a wonderful character that I did cheer on, he would not have survived without the help of the vet and Arena and Dindie. I get that kind-hearted people would want to help a 15 year old in over his head. But better and more experienced riders where taken out all the time and yet this 15 year old greenhorn keeps going. Actually it was also a little unbelievable that the 18 year old girl did so well too. The excuse for them being in the race was that their presence helped sell papers. I could buy that. But not that the two would do so well for so long especially while making silly mistakes along the way.
Additionally the ending was abrupt and unsatisfactory. The author decided to have some of the riders tamper with the race in ridiculous ways that would certainly have been found out and have disqualified them. And the actual ending of the race was silly. Ridiculous even. Then the book has a throwaway line about friendship and just stopped. No resolution at all. I would have at least liked an epilogue about what happened to Evan, Arena, and Dindie after the race. The author had all these crazy things happen and the reader doesn’t get any explanation of the consequences.
So this ended up being just a fun yet okay read for me. I don’t know if I would recommend it. I am glad I read it but I also be glad that I borrowed this one.
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
Fifteen-year-old Evan Kendrick has traveled from New Mexico Territory to Galveston with his father, Edward, who will be competing in a horse race that’s offering a $3,000 prize to the winner. But a terrible accident seriously injures Evan’s drunken father, forcing Evan to saddle up instead. This is no ordinary race. Running from Texas to New England, its course is eighteen hundred miles–maybe even longer–and Evan will be riding a barely half-broke mustang stallion that he and his father caught. He’ll be competing against all breeds of horses, ridden by professionals and amateurs from across the world. Although Evan has learned a lot about horses from his father, Edward has also taught his son that horses are good for nothing–“You ride one to death, you get another and do the same.” But to win this race –to even survive it — Evan will have to put his trust in a tough stallion the color of trader’s whiskey: a mustang named Taos Lightning.
To visit the author’s website go to:
To buy the novel please visit:
To add to Goodreads go to: