What happened to Massachusetts was a crying shame.
This is the first sentence of what seems, at the beginning, to be a folksy tale about a plucky little racehorse. We come to know and love Massachusetts – or Chusey as the narrator fondly calls him – but all the time in the back of our minds we are wondering when we are going to encounter the ‘crying shame’.
When we do it’s more than somewhat surprising. Without giving too much away, the story moves from Kentucky to… somewhere else. And what started out as a simple story about horse racing becomes something completely different.
We move into what can be seen as science fiction or fable, and very well done it is too. When we do find out what happened to Massachusetts it’s a very long way from anything we might have suspected – and the journey is a pretty enjoyable one.
Highly recommended. Not least of all for an equine hero with a big heart.
A Fantastic YA Adventure!
Massachusettes is a racehorse who has a great future ahead of him until something happens that changes him forever. Instead of racing on a regular track against other horses, he has to race against monstrosities and aliens through a course where the land itself is hostile and dangerous and his fellow ‘speeders’ and their riders won’t stoop to murder if that means they will win.
What I enjoyed:
The journey of the story. This is pretty much an all-action romp from start to finish with nail-biting tension as Chouk-Tzie and Orin charge through an alien world.
The setting. The world where the Katerwaul Klash takes place and the strange Augurmasters who control it, is beautifully described. The atmosphere it conjures made me think of the pod race on Tatooine as featured in The Phantom Menace.
The writing style. Fluent and flawless, beautiful word choices, excellent description and direct and engaging dialogue. The author makes words dance across the page, swirling the reader along effortlessly.
What I struggled with:
The morality. A huge tension point in the book is that Orin voluntarily takes on a horrific wager to do something that, in my opinion, no decent individual would ever agree to. That made it very hard for me to see him as sympathetic.
The end. The resolution of the last climax felt unnecessarily contrived to me, which was a bit disappointing after the taut writing and superb storytelling of the rest of the book. But, that said, the way it was done kind of worked in a book aimed at children or young teens. The message it gave of parental oversight maybe helps take the enormity out of how things transpired for a younger reader and would provide a sense of security.
This is a great book for a younger reader and is beautifully written. Highly recommended.