The Promise Horse

Jackie Merchant

The Promise Horse
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The Promise Horse

Jackie Merchant

Harry is tired of being the tall new kid with red hair, big feet and freckles; the one with the dead sister whose voice follows her wherever she goes. Everyone says she’s imagining it, but she knows they’re wrong. If she was making Sissy up, wouldn’t she make her less of a pain?

When Harry’s wish for a horse comes true and Marksman comes into her life, she isn’t sure that the impressive horse is the one for her. She doesn’t need another challenge. But could he be just what she needs to learn the difference between standing out and standing up?

This fantastic story for middle-grade readers will tug at your heartstrings.


In this middle-grade novel pitched at horse lovers there is plenty of other drama too. Harry and her sister, Sissy, have always longed for a horse. But it is only after Sissy dies and the family moves to the country that Harry is allowed to borrow a horse, a giant on four legs named Marksman. Harry must learn to care for Marksman and improve her riding skills if she has any hope of being allowed to attend the gymkhana at the end of summer.

For any horse lover, there are lovely scenes of getting to know and trust a new horse, as well as gaining confidence riding. There are also added layers of a grieving family, particularly Harry’s mother, and her sister’s voice that only Harry can hear. Secondary characters, including a kind riding teacher and a troubled bully, are also welldrawn.

What initially appears to be a simple horse story is actually a sophisticated drama that will resonate not only with horse lovers but also readers aged 8-11 who enjoy stories about overcoming hardship.

Angela Crocombe is the shop mananger at Readings Kids.

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