The Resource Dark horses, Cecily von Ziegesar

Dark horses, Cecily von Ziegesar

Label
Dark horses
Title
Dark horses
Statement of responsibility
Cecily von Ziegesar
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Tone
Writing style
Character
Review
  • Grades 9-12 Since the deaths of her beloved grandmother and her grandmother’s horse, Merritt has been out of control. The final straw comes when she walks out in the middle of the SAT and is sent to Good Fences, an equine therapy program, where she meets Red, an angry, destructive ex-racehorse, and bonds with him when no one else can. Soon the two are excelling on the show circuit, but things still slip out of Merritt’s control as she balances growing attractions to Beatrice, Red’s groom, and Carvin, a competing rider. In an homage to Black Beauty, the first-person narration is split between Merritt and Red. The horse’s narration can be perplexing (he’s oddly familiar with U.S. landmarks and pop culture), and his animosity—and unhorsely murderous tendencies—toward Merritt’s potential love interests is often uncomfortably absurd. Still, though Merritt’s overnight transition into a top jumper strains credulity, the competitive riding world is always a draw, and this is an intriguing look into its dark side. If that weren’t enough, von Ziegesar’s (the Gossip Girl series) name alone will spur readers. -- Reagan, Maggie (Reviewed 9/1/2016) (Booklist, vol 113, number 1, p104)
  • Gr 8 Up—Von Ziegesar, best known for the "Gossip Girl" series, makes a solid return to the world of privileged and troubled teens. Merritt Wenner has been struggling with just about everything since the death of her beloved grandmother and her grandmother's horse. When she crosses the line, her parents send her to Good Fences, an equine therapy program for troubled girls. Merritt strikes an unusual connection with Red, a wild and aggressive horse whom nobody else can control. Their bond makes Merritt a standout rider, and she and Red soon find themselves stars of the competition circuit. As she builds relationships with her groom and another rider, Merritt begins to heal, but the horse becomes increasingly possessive and jealous, with disastrous results. This work alternates points of view between Merritt and Red. This is as effective as it is entertaining. Red makes a complex and somewhat unpredictable antagonist, and once a radio is placed in his stall, his sections are peppered with song lyrics, which provide much-needed levity as his possessiveness turns threatening. Other than Merritt, the human characters are a fairly stock combination of the rich and the miserable, but it's unlikely teens will pay them much mind as they read on to see what Red will do next. VERDICT While Von Ziegesar's original fans have long since moved on to adulthood, this page-turner will draw in a whole new audience, with just the right blend of glamor, scandal, and horses. Recommended for public and high school libraries.—Elizabeth Saxton, Tiffin, OH --Elizabeth Saxton (Reviewed 07/01/2016) (School Library Journal, vol 62, issue 7, p87)
  • Gossip Girl author Von Ziegesar turns her attention to the competitive horse show circuit. Seventeen-year-old loner Merritt Wenner, still mourning her grandmother’s unexpected death a year ago, resorts to destructive behavior that gets her self-absorbed parents to seek help for her at an equine therapy program in Connecticut. There Merritt meets Red, an unruly former racehorse. Riding together cements their bond and leads Merritt to train and compete with Red alongside an attractive Californian named Carvin, with Beatrice, an unstable teen, as Red’s groom. Alternating narratives switch between the viewpoints of Merritt and Red, the latter an unusual choice that doesn’t entirely pay off: while it foreshadows the dangerous extent of Red’s intense feelings for Merritt, his frequent invoking of misheard song lyrics (“We were an island in the stream. Sweet dreams were made of bliss”) and other anthropomorphized commentary tends to grate as the plot intensifies. Still, Von Ziegesar’s knowledge of equestrian competition and the compelling pairing of a troubled horse with an equally scarred teenager make this an engaging, if somewhat predictable read. Ages 14–up. Agent: Eric Brown, Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo. (Sept.)
			 --Staff (Reviewed 07/04/2016) (Publishers Weekly, vol 263, issue 27, p)
  • A troubled teen finds her temporary soul mate in a troubled horse. At Red's only race, the 3-year-old thoroughbred jumps the track rails and causes a terrific accident. Mr. de Rothschild, a wealthy white man (everyone seems to be white in this book except Luis, a Latino groom), buys him for his troubled 18-year-old daughter, Beatrice, but when, unsurprisingly, she can't handle him, he donates the horse to a therapeutic equine center he has founded. Merritt, 17, arrives there after going on the lam from her private Manhattan school's SAT. Although the patients don't actually ride the horses, Merritt rides Red, and the two form an immediate, unrealistic bond. Without any training the young horse and occasional pleasure rider are suddenly capable of tackling a course of fences. De Rothschild sees dollar signs and shoves the pair into the high-end show circuit, with Beatrice along as groom. Merritt flirts with Beatrice but falls for a dishy boy rider; Red becomes jealous; trouble ensues. The narration alternates in chapters between Merritt and Red, who comes off as an equine version of an abusive boyfriend. Von Ziegesar, known for her Gossip Girls series, nails teen dialogue and horse-show society, but her side characters are all cardboard cutouts, and her plot is a hopeless, melodramatic morass; the horse-as-thwarted-lover aspect feels icky in the extreme. A soap-operatic blend of Romeo and Juliet and My Friend Flicka. Yikes. (Fiction. 12-16)(Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2016)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10527599
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Von Ziegesar, Cecily
Index
no index present
LC call number
PZ7.V94
LC item number
Dar 2016
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/minGradeLevel
  • 8
  • 12
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Horsemanship
  • Horse shows
  • Love
  • Jealousy
  • Self-actualization (Psychology)
Target audience
adolescent
Label
Dark horses, Cecily von Ziegesar
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
22 cm
Extent
327 pages
Isbn
9781616955175
Lccn
2016003782
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)933420563
Label
Dark horses, Cecily von Ziegesar
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
22 cm
Extent
327 pages
Isbn
9781616955175
Lccn
2016003782
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)933420563

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