Fire Storm (One Dollar Horse trilogy) review

Book: Fire Storm (One Dollar Horse Book 3)

Author: Lauren St John

I started this series of books when the first one came out in 2012 and even though they are supposed to be for people younger than me (as a teenager I am not in the age bracket that this book is intended for) I was hooked from the first book-it really is good for any horse lover regardless of age. The premise is about a teenage girl Casey Blue who has always dreamed of being an eventer  but lives in Hackney in the east end of London and doesn’t have the money for riding lessons, never mind the costs of becoming a world class eventer. Her luck changes when she rescues half starved Storm Warning from certain death in an East End slaughter yard, paying for him with a one dollar bill. The three books follow Casey’s journey to becoming an eventing superstar and the final book of the series follows her attempt to win the Burghley Horse Trials (and the Grand Slam of eventing which has only ever been won once before, by Pippa Funnell). Here is a synopsis of the book:

Teenage eventing star Casey Blue has it all-fame, her champion horse Storm and a boyfriend who loves her.  Then Kyle West walks into her life. The country’s hottest equestrian coach is also drop dead gorgeous and Casey knows right away that she’s in trouble. But who is Kyle and why are there so many unanswered questions about his past? And what is his connection to Anna Sparks, Casey’s old rival?

As The Burghley Horse Trials approach, it becomes clear that what is at stake is not just the Grand Slam, but Casey’s life.

Fire Storm was a great book-it’s only taken me three days to read it (that either shows that the plot is enthralling or that I have far too much time on my hands-I’d prefer to go with the first here though!). Casey the protagonist is one of those female characters that I just love-strong willed and determined with a stubborn streak yet she still has a huge heart, St John does a great job of make Casey a likeable character so that you want her to win as much as she does-despite the fact that someone winning the Grand Slam before they reach the age of eighteen is highly unlikely, it doesn’t matter because horse books are all about fulfilling and chasing after your dreams, and Casey certainly does that. Some of Casey’s actions in this book infuriated me-her choosing of a fancy horse lorry over Mrs Smith (Casey’s elderly but incredible coach) and her falling for the act of Kyle West- a new top trainer introduced in this book to name a few-I mean from the description of Kyle and the way he tries to poach her at White Oaks at the beginning of the story, she really should have known he wasn’t all he was cracked up to be. I liked the progression of Casey’s relationship with her new horse Roxy (Lady Roxanne) whilst Storm Warning was on a rest break after Kentucky and it was nice to see her working with and having some difficulties with a different horse. One thing Lauren St John does well is give the horses personalities, as Roxy is an intelligent but incredibly difficult horse to deal with whilst Storm is big hearted and wants to please his owner and like Casey you can’t help but compare the two.

This book was packed full of drama-the revelation of Mrs Smith’s increasingly worsening health (my heart was literally in my mouth as Mrs Smith is one of my favourite characters, with her eccentricities, huge knowledge about horses and ability to stand up to Casey even when she’s being incredibly stubborn). I felt like slapping Casey when she was being so terrible to Mrs Smith and shaking her to tell her just how amazing her coach is to carry on teaching her even though she’s terminally ill (to be fair to Casey, she doesn’t actually know). The other drama is provided by the mysteries surrounding Kyle West and his right hand man Ray (who is kind of creepy) and their real intentions towards Casey, and the reappearance of her old rival back from when she started eventing (who was banned for cruelty to a horse but is back) Anna Sparks and whether she is really a different person and her fall from grace has made her nice, or if she will become the stuck up girl she was back then. Lauren St John’s writing of Fire Storm, as with the first two books in the series, is great and there are lots of tension filled, edge of the seat moments and plot twists as seen in the first two books-thankfully Casey’s dad is drama free this book as in the previous two St John puts him through quite the turmoil-one thing I did miss from this book was that the close relationship between Casey and her dad was not shown as much, which was a shame as  their relationship is lovely. The only thing that bugged me about the book was Casey’s infatuation with Kyle because she seemed to be going into that teenage girl obsessing about a boy zone and I didn’t really like her when she was like that.

I didn’t find this book as gripping as the previous one (although I loved it and it did have me hooked), I felt that the story of the previous book was simply stronger than this one but it was good in it’s own right-the only problem for me was that a lot of storylines were left unfinished-Mrs Smith’s illness, Casey’s relationship with Anna, what Casey does after the end of the book, were all left up in the air and I would have preferred if the conclusion of the book had been stronger than it was-the ending actually confused me a little although it did bring the trilogy full circle.

Overall Fire Storm is a strong ending to a strong series, which if you are able to use your imagination a little and imagine that a 17 year old who had only been training for three years would be able to beat top champion eventers, in tough four star events (actually just that she’d be able to qualify is a stretch then this book (and series) is a great insight into the horsey world and the joys and dangers of eventing, with enough drama to keep you hooked throughout and a main character who above everything else, you are constantly rooting for to win. It’s definitely been one of my favourite series of this year and I would recommend it to anyone who loves horses and enjoys this type of book-you don’t have to be a little kid!

My Rating: 3/5

The next book I will be reviewing is the first book in the Unwind series, Unwind by Neal Shusterman.