A Horse Called Hero by Sam Angus

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A Horse Called Hero by Sam Angus jacket imageFollowing Soldier Dog (Feiwel, 2013), Angus now takes on the home front in World War II in this tender and melancholy middle grade novel about the relationship between a boy and a horse.

In 1940, 8-year-old Wolfie and his older sister, Dodo, are evacuated from London to the rural southwest of England – their mother is long dead and their father is fighting in France. Within days, they find out that Pa, a World War l cavalry hero, has been arrested for desertion and they are ostracized by the villagers. They are taken in by the kindly local vicar and his schoolteacher daughter, and when Wolfie finds an abandoned foal, all his longing for his father becomes focused on raising Hero.

Seen from the perspective of both, fully-realized, siblings, with the fierce relationship between Wolfie and Hero evocatively captured at the heart of the story, Hero is tonally and thematically somewhat reminiscent of The Railway Children (Nesbit, 1906).

Towards the end, an extraordinarily unlikely coincidence tips the story into melodrama, and the intensity unbalances the novel, losing the quiet and delicate power of the earlier story. Too many plotlines are only half-developed, and the abrupt and confusing climax left me wanting more closure.

An author’s note gives some historical background on many of the topics covered in the book.

For horse lovers and readers who enjoy more reflective stories..

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