Genres: Childrens, History, WW1
Release Date: 1982
Find The Author: Website
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A powerful tale of war, redemption, and a hero's journey.
1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his
nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the
Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing
the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the
trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able
to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer's
son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?
Honestly, when I started reading this book I was expecting a lot of things - sadness, mud, despair, deaths. What I wasn't expecting was that the whole story is told from the point of view... of the horse. So that threw me a bit.
Having a horse narrate the whole story was quite an experience. I really did have a problem with it and spent most of the story wondering how on Earth the horse could perfectly understand both English and German but at the same time not understand it. Just downright confusing most of the time and probably a glaring plot hole too.
Having the story narrated by the horse (Joey, I refuse to call him anything but the horse) is also very clever. Telling the story from the point of view of a soldier, you only get one side of the story, same as if you choose any person really but finding a way to tell the story from both sides of the war while at the same time as remaining impartial... I have to commend Michael for that.
For such a short book, you get a picture of life in the midst of the war from many different perspectives, from farm boys (and girls), from old soldiers and new recruits. Sadly, Joey gets passed from person to person very often so I was wary of getting used to anyone. I did get depressingly attached to the artistic Captain Nicholls, and knowing that in the movie it was Tom Hiddleston playing him just made everything even sadder.
The ending definitely had it's cliched moments, but was still a great ending and left me feeling happy to leave the characters that survived. There is a sequel to this book, Farm Boy, but I'm not sure I'll be picking that up any time soon. It just seemed a little unneeded.