Shadow Horse starts out with a teenage girl named Jasmine Schuler, who has to go to a court hearing for juvenile delinquents. She is accused of assaulting Hugh Robicheaux, the owner of High Meadows Farm, where Jas and her grandfather had lived. She attacked Hugh since she knew that he had killed his own horse, contrary to the story that Hugh recounted about how Jas’ grandfather had killed the house.
After proven guilty in the court room, she must now go live with her foster parent, Miss Hahn, for 45 days. And during that time, she must find evidence to prove that Hugh had killed his own horse. In the meantime, she learns to accept living on the run-down Second Chance Farm, and she even finds a horse at an auction. The discovery of this animal drastically influences the mystery.
I thought this first book in the two-book series was pretty good. However, in my opinion, the real action of the series doesn’t start until the second book.
In the second book, Whirlwind, Jas goes to her next hearing. Hugh strangely shows up there and threatens Jas to keep quiet about her suspicions. This second book becomes a lot darker than the first. An investigator is hired to help with the case. Jas’ relationship with a farm volunteer is growing. Also, Hugh has a spy somewhere on the farm, who is reporting everything about Jas to Hugh. But who is the spy? And how will they get to the bottom of the mystery and stay safe in the meantime?
What made this book unique was the unusual circumstance that brought Jas to Second Chance Farm. Who would have ever thought that a girl guilty of assault on a horse farm would spend her probation days at another horse farm? However, had that not happened, Jas would never have had an opportunity to try to solve the mystery. In the end, it was better for her to be on probation, despite the obvious drawbacks of the situation, like curfew hours.
If you love horses or murder mysteries, or a combination of both of these, then you would enjoy this book series. I would recommend these books for younger teens, since they are relatively basic reads. However, they have a good plot, and once the action starts, it is quite a captivating series. I felt it was pretty realistic, especially since the reason behind Hugh’s actions is unfortunately something that could happen in real life. Overall, I really enjoyed reading these books, and would rate them 4 out of 5 stars.
-Leila S., 8th grade