Dark Horse (North Oak: Book 6) by Ann Hunter

Publisher: Rebel House Ink

Date of publication: March 1st, 2019

Genre: Young Adult, Equestrian

Series: North Oak

Born to Run—Book 1 (review here)

Yearling—Book 2 (review here)

Morning Glory—Book 3 (review here)

To Bottle Lightening—Book 4 (review here)

Far Turn—Book 5 (review here)

Dark Horse—Book 6

Against the Odds—Book 7

Ride for Glory—Book 8

Hard Boot—Book 9

Inquiry—Book 10

Purchase Links: Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:

Just when Alex could hardly stand waiting another second to test for her jockey license, a brutal attack sends her spiraling into a depression. She’s a failure as a person, a rider and friend. Even Dejado and Carol can’t seem to reach her. Can they help her pull through, and realize her potential in time to get Venus Nights ready for her first race?

On the heels of Joanna Campbell’s beloved Thoroughbred Series, and Walter Farley’s Black Stallion, comes a brand new teen equestrian series that will sweep you away like a runaway Thoroughbred.

First Line:

Alex woke to the sensation of her arm suspended.

Dark Horse by Ann Hunter

On the eve of her second test for her jockeying license, Alex is brutally attacked by a person she thought was a friend. This attack sends her into a deep depression. Feeling like a failure to everyone, Alex retreats inside herself. With her career as a jockey on the line, can her family and friends get through to her?

I was surprised when the author contacted me to review the rest of this series. I had reviewed books 1-5 years ago (back in 2018ish, I think) and figured she hadn’t written anymore. When I got that email, I jumped on it. I enjoyed the previous books and couldn’t wait to read this one. I wasn’t disappointed.

Before I get into the review, I want to throw a warning up. I haven’t been doing this because of Amazon, but it is warranted. Dark Horse deals with the after-effects of rape. The author detailed the rage towards the rapist, the blame the person raped deals with (internally and from other people), and the frustration that the person raped deals with (police seemingly doing nothing and the rapist walking free) perfectly. These scenes in this book are raw and can be triggering. So read cautiously and keep a Kleenex close because some of these scenes will make you cry.

Dark Horse is a fast-paced book in Hamlin, Kentucky. This book starts fast and keeps the pace up for the entire book. There is no lag, which pleasantly surprised me.

The main storyline in Dark Horse centers around Alex, the after-effects of her rape, her racing dreams, and the horses she loves. My heart broke for Alex while reading this book. She was obviously in pain, and I wanted to reach into the book, hug her, and tell her it would be alright. I also couldn’t understand why her foster parents didn’t put her into counseling afterward. I couldn’t put this book down because I wanted to know what would happen to Alex. I needed to know if she would get better if she would get her jockey’s license, and if the police would do anything about what happened to her.

I liked Alex, but I didn’t like seeing her this way. I wanted old Alex back, but I understood that Alex would never be the same after what happened to her. I think she had a lot of guts to show up at school, still having a bitten lip and black eye from Brad. It disgusted me to see how Brad initially tried to intimidate her, which escalated to him stalking her in school. How the principal treated Alex when she was told about Brad also disgusted me. And don’t get me started on the police. Why is it always the women’s fault when reporting a rape? And the excuse that he was from a good-standing family disgusted me. Guess what? People from good-standing families do bad things, like beating and raping women. My heart almost imploded with sadness in the middle of the book when Alex discovered something was being kept from her. While keeping something important secret was wrong, I understood why Hilary did. But, the cherry on top of everything made Alex make a very rash decision.

The racing angle of the book was fascinating. While I am somewhat knowledgeable about show jumping/dressage, I am not knowledgeable about racing. So, I enjoyed reading about how she got her license and how she had to prove herself to the officials.

I also loved the horse angle of the book. I was pleased to see that Morning Glory, Venus Nights, and Promenade were in this book. Those horses were a big part of Alex’s healing.

The author did touch upon Alex’s sexuality several times during the book. She had an on/off-again relationship with Dejado. She also was romantically attracted to Carol. The hint of a love triangle is given during the huge confrontation scene with Brad and Dejado. But I am wondering if it will be like that. Something tells me that Carol doesn’t feel the same way about Alex.

The end of Dark Horse was excellent. I liked how Carol and Alex decided enough was enough (after Alex’s accident with Promenade). They wanted to nail Brad’s butt to the wall and make him pay. That was one of the best and most satisfying scenes in the entire book. But the author didn’t exactly end the storyline. Instead, if felt suspended (I am sure there will be a trial). The author also didn’t end any of the other storylines. Instead, they will be continued into the other books.

I recommend Dark Horse to anyone over 16. There is violence and mild language, but there are no sexual situations. There is also talk of rape (off-page), depression, one scene of self-harm (cutting), and reckless behavior around horses.

Many thanks to Anne Hunter for allowing me to read and review Dark Horse. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed this review of Dark Horse, then you will enjoy these books:

Other books by Ann Hunter:

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