March 17, 2013

Book Review: Welcome to the 'Crown Prince' books


Two smooth horse-and-rider novels introduce the new Brookmeade Young Riders Series, and they deserve an enthusiastic welcome. These are special books -- engaging in their action, authentic in their detail and first-rate in their direct appeal to a reader's emotions.


"CROWN PRINCE." By Linda Snow McLoon. Trafalgar Square Books.

287 pages. $9.95.


"CROWN PRINCE CHALLENGED." By Linda Snow McLoon. Trafalgar Square Books. 375 pages. $9.95.

First, a word about those target readers: Don't let the emphasis on "young" readers for the Brookmeade Series mislead you. These books introduce a series of good reading for a wide range of ages.

Written by Linda S. McLoon of Portland, they tell solid, fast-moving stories about a young woman, a beloved new horse, the relationship they develop and their achievements together.

Crown Prince is the horse. He is a kind of horse royalty with the blood of outstanding thoroughbreds running in his veins. But he is a rogue horse, not suited for a thoroughbred race track. He must be retrained for other events. Can he successfully make the switch? We find out in "Crown Prince," the first book of the series.

Like the classic "Prince and the Pauper" tale, Crown Prince leaves the world of the track behind. He finds a new owner -- or perhaps we should say she finds him -- for the unbelievable price of $1. She is young Sarah Wagner, and she is a heroine well-matched to her highly active horse.

Together, the two of them must become intuitively tuned to one another and learn to deal with challenges that erupt quickly and with a strong sense of threat.

McLoon rides the current of action and suspense with rare smoothness. She knows the territory well. And she places Crown Prince and Sarah in a world that feels complete.

Then she gets out of the way and lets the story unfold.

From the deep and moving interaction of horse and rider to the authentic projection of the sights and smells of barns and tack rooms, an all-encompassing sense of reality adds immeasurably to the telling of these stories.

We the readers are the ones who benefit. And the benefits are generous indeed.

Nancy Grape writes book reviews for The Maine Sunday Telegram.


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