The Phantom Rider

Our rating: ***

Tim Cottrell enjoys riding his beautiful horse Whiskbroom cross-country, but he dreams of finding someone to ride with him. The feed man tells him about a supposed ghost horse and rider who have been sighted in the vicinity. But before Tim can try to track down the rider, his sister Leona introduces him to a girl named Kate, who loves horses, but says she won’t ride them. The two of them decide to start a riding stable and purchase a stubborn little donkey named Eloise. Once they discover how to keep Eloise from balking, they hire themselves out to give rides to children. During all this, Tim is still determined to catch the phantom rider. Then he discovers a beautiful Arabian mare named Gray Cloud. He’s sure that if Kate had a horse like that, she’d be willing to ride, so he attempts to buy the horse and discovers several secrets.

This is one of those books where the kids try to “gray over” things and rationalize their disobedience. I do appreciate the way the ghost horse and rider turn out. Eloise is rather cute, and Tim’s cross-country chasings of the phantom rider are fun. Any of you swash-buckling types who got your hopes up when I mentioned secrets, sit back in your chairs. They’re more ordinary and practical. For instance, why is Gray Cloud’s saddle dry when the caretaker claims he rides her daily? That sort of thing. That being said, it’s a fair book. I read it in one day.

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