Sunday, 24 February 2008

Review: JOSEPHINE - Ghost Horse On the Moor

Ghost Horse On the Moor is the 4th book in the "Moors" series. It was first published in 1980. It is illustrated by Eric Rowe.

The blurb (of the hb edition) reads:-

A distraught grey horse gallops across the Moor, fully bridled and with its saddle hanging loose. Who can it belong to? And why is it so terrified? Frances and her friends are determined to catch the runaway horse and solve the mystery, but Frances realises she can no longer rely on her close friend, Felix, to help her. For Felix has found a richer and more glamorous friend!

As stated, Felix is not as predominent as he was in the last couple of books. A new, rich character called Natasha turns up, and Felix spends most of his time with her.

The book is taken up with the search for this "ghost" horse and it turns out that it is real.

But the real fun is when they find out who the horse belongs to, and particularly who the owner is.

Like most of the series it has a twist. I find this the most enjoyable out of all the moor series of books, the fun starts with the pony. The pony adds dimension and reality to the series, and is a good plot for the book. The reason why she is so frightened is both sad and poignant. The reality of the owner, and how he is a threat.

The horse goes missing, and the bond shared between her and some people really grabs you, it is easy to see why it is one of the best in the series.

Jane is missing, but the series is so strong that you forget she existed, as the Burnetts are still about.

Again, the importance of the Burnetts father is emphasised in the story, and also the dangers of the moor if you don't know it.

A good strong book, possibly the strongest one in the series. The end isn't quite so cliché and is not disappointing.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Review: JOSEPHINE - Ride To The Rescue

Ride To The Rescue is the 3rd title in the Moors series. It is also the only book in the series not to feature "Moor" in the title. It was first published in 1979.

It is illustrated by Elisabeth Grant. 

The blurb reads:-

Old Mrs Hathaway, who lives in a lonely house on the Moor, is frightened. She is convinced that intruders break into her house during the night, yet her nephew scoffs at the idea and says she is senile. Frances and her friends, however, are not so sure, and are determined to solve the mystery. It seems at first as if Frances' new and high-spirited horse, Orlando, will be more of a hindrance than an asset, but Orlando's skittish behaviour in the end proves to a blessing in disguise!

As stated, Frances has a new mount; her previous mount Redwing, has gone to her younger sister Louisa. This is not the only change: Jane, a character in the previous two books, is no longer in it, as she has given up riding.

To me, this book is pleasant enough; but to me it reminds me a lot of a Pony Patrol book, which I cant place.

It also tells of life on the moors, how the Burnett's doctor has been a lifeblood to the community, how the ponies and riders are important to the moor.

But if you can ignore the Pony Patrol similarities, it is a lovely story, with a great mystery thrown in. For me, it is not as exciting or as mind grabbing as Fear Treks the Moor, but it still an excellent continuation of the series. Although Jane is missing, it doesn't impact on the series much, and you feel that you dont miss her that much.

There is a twist in the end, you dont expect it and in some ways, the ending is a bit funny. Not so much as cliché, but it is kinda expected. A good book nevertheless.

Saturday, 9 February 2008


This week I received not so many pony books. But the ones I received were important.

The first one I recieved was the extremely rare, and set completer: Ponies To The Rescue by Gillian Baxter. It is part of the Magic and Moonshine series. There is not even a copy on abebooks at the moment. For some reason I keep on thinking I have read it before, but I never had any Magic and Moonshine books as a kid (I know I read Pantomime Ponies from the school library).

The second was even more important: Ponies In the Park by Christine. I know I havent read it, but since I had the other 2 in the series (Ponies In the Forest and Ponies In the Blizzard) it was important that I got it. So that means (with the exception of their anthologies) I have every single pony fictional work that all 3 sisters wrote. Which is quite an achievement. Ponies In the Park is signed by Christine: so that means I have signed works by all 3 sisters.

Review: JOSEPHINE - Fear Treks The Moor

Fear Treks The Moor is the second book in the Moors series, having been first published in 1978. Like Star Riders, it continues the story of the characters we met in the previous book.

The blurb reads:-


Moorland farmer Mr Jackson has a tractor incident, so his family - Heather, Mick and Tracy - have to keep the pony-trekking business going somehow. Their friends all pitch in and help, and manage to keep the oddly assorted guests reasonably happy and safe - even though some of them can scarcely ride. But then they realise that the uppish and peculiar schoolboy 'N. Hutchinson', is genuinely in hiding from some sinister foreigners who call themselves his uncle. There are some really exciting moment, including a chase through a moorland bog and a nerve-racking night under the stars, and a final climax on the rocks.

A marvellous pony-riding story with a difference!

Well it is certainly different from Josephine's point of view. To me, this really reminds of (plot wise)Josephine's sister Christine's book, Ride by Night. In Ride By Night there is a trekking element and there is escaping from foreigners (these prove to be Rumanians in that case).

The book I feel has a slightly slow start, although the main part seem to be preparing for the new trekkers and meeting them. Nadeem aka N makes an appearance, and there are a couple more ponies at the pony trekking centre. The main characters haven't changed that much, save for a little older.

The story doesnt get going until they meet Nadeem's uncles and then the story really heats up. First of all they try to disguise him, and when it doesnt work more and more desperate measures.

I like this book, I am undecided whether or not it is my favourite out of the "Moors" series (Either this one or Ghost Horse On The Moor). Once it starts going, it really holds you, at times you are holding your breath. In some ways the plot is a bit watery thin, especially at the beginning, but the last half of the book more than makes up for it. If you can ignore the similarities between this one and Ride by Night that is.

In some ways, it is also weaker than the predecessor (Star Riders), but if you like the adventure type stories you wont be disappointed. The ending is pretty dramatic and makes an interesting conclusion.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Review: JOSEPHINE - Star-Riders Of the Moor/Star Riders

Star-Riders of the Moor is this week's book. It is the start of Josephine's longest running series, which is most commonly referred to as the "Moors" series. This is due to the fact that all the books in the series (with the exception of one) have "Moors" in the title. It was first published in 1976.

It was republished in 1990 by J A Allen, who decided to rename it Star Riders. I have no idea why they chose to do that (they decided to do the same with Diana's Cassidy in Danger/This Pony Is Dangerous), perhaps it was due to the fact that they only decided to republish one out of the series.

The "Moors" series comprises of the following books: Star-Riders of the Moor, Fear Treks the Moor, Ride to the Rescue, Ghost Horse on the Moor, Treasure on the Moor, Mystery on the Moor and finally Suspicion Stalks the Moor.

I will be using the first edition, which is the one pictured above. The J A Allen edition of t
he book was revised a little; the differences are minor, so it doesnt matter so much which one you read. (There is also a paperback edition) The first edition is illustrated by Elisabeth Grant, these are missing from the re-named edition.

The blurb reads:

The Burnetts, the Mitchells and the Jacksons wanted to show the 'new' people all their favourite places for riding on the moor. They were annoyed to find strangers at Menacoell, an old shepherd's cottage, and full of plans for turning them out. The strangers turned out to be film-makers, however, who needed their help with pack ponies for a smuggling film. But was the film-making quite what it was made out to be?

Firstly, this is a complete departure from Josephine's usual style, as there is no instructional element to this story (or even this series). Her sister Christine was more famed for writing such books; nearly all her books follow the "adventure" element. I do like the "Moors" series the best though, with the exception of
Mystery on the Moor and Suspicion Stalks the Moor (reason why covered a couple of weeks later).

The series focuses on the Burnetts mainly. There isnt a location listed: although there are many place names mentioned, but they are entirely fictional. To me the locations sound Cornish, and therefore the book is set in Cornwall. Josephine herself based the location on the time she ran a pony club in Bodmin Moor, so it makes sense it is in Cornwall.

The book begins with the Burnetts talking about the new neighbours and meeting up with them. It also introduces the Jacksons; people who in the end turn out to be a central role: their dad runs a trekking centre (to me it always seems on a shoe string: the fact the ponies are frequently sent out with bath mats under the saddle and rusty bits is a good example) which provides interesting pony characters, both in this book and later on in the series. The Jacksons also sell the ponies, which proves useful for Jane, as initially she is mountless.

As per the blurb, the adventure begins when Jane, the Burnetts, the Hamiltons and the Jacksons begin riding together, and discover Menacoell is being used. As it says in the blurb, the excitement begins when they discover the "film makers". Intially, they think it is great, but at the end, they discover something sinister going on. I wont spoil it for anyone.

It's one of those books you either love or hate: if you are the kind who loves Christine's adventure type books and have been put off by Josephine's "instructive" side of things, then you will love this.

However, if you like Josephine's instructive style, then this may not be for you. Either way it is a well written book and an excellent start to the series: it is easy to see why this was Josephine's most long running series.

It is interesting to see that Josephine is not merely confined to a specific type of horse book: there are more to her then writing instructional stuff.