Notes: ARC received via Amazon Vine.
Young Adult, Contemporary, Social Issues, Romance
Print/Ebook/Audio (336 pages, SOHO TEEN)
Merritt Wenner has been selfdestructing ever since the tragic deaths of her grandmother and her horse. After an epic all-night bender, she walks out of the SAT and disappears. Her parents, looking for a quick fix, ship her off to a residential equine-assisted therapy program.
At Good Fences, Merritt meets Red: a failed racehorse and a terror in the barn. Red has never bonded with anyone, but Merritt is not afraid of him, which makes all the difference. Soon they’re sneaking rides after curfew. Red’s owner, recognizing their potential, funds their launch into the hunter/jumper circuit.
Against the cutthroat backdrop of competitive riding, Merritt finds herself unexpectedly attracted to Red’s groom, Beatrice, and at the same time drawn to Carvin, a rival rider. But in Red’s mind, Merritt belongs to him alone. Anyone else poses a threat. And Merritt can’t imagine the lengths Red will go to keep her to himself.
The only thing dark about this horse is his sense of humor. (1 star)From time to time a blurb for a book intrigues me enough that in spite of it not being centered on something that interests me I am compelled to give it a shot. Teens with big problems, a competitive sport, and a potentially bisexual protagonist? It sounded good to me. Unfortunately, it was plagued by a hideous narrative gimmick. Every other chapter is told by Red. Yes, the horse gets to tell his side of things... and it's really, really bad. Jumbled song lyrics, strange analogies, and a horse talking about things it could not know make them cheesy and awkward.
While I think Dark Horses had immense potential to be an emotional, gripping read I just cannot recommend it. The cartoon-ish horse chapters just killed it for me. I couldn't take it seriously and the ending was so ridiculous I wanted to throw the book in the trash.