Canterwood Crest: Take the Reins by Jessica Burkhart Novel Review


Title: Canterwood Crest: Taking the Reins

Author: Jessica Burkhart

Publisher: Aladdin MIX

ISBN: 978-1416958406


May Contain Spoilers

From the back of the book:

When Sasha Silver and her horse, Charm, arrive on the campus of the elite Canterwood Crest Academy, Sasha knows that she’s in trouble. She’s not exactly welcomed with open arms. One group of girls in particular is used to being the best, the brightest, and the prettiest on the team, and when Sasha shows her skills in the arena, the girls’ claws come out.

Sasha is determined to prove that she belongs at Canterwood. Will she rise to the occasion and make the advanced riding team by the end of her first semester? Or will the pressure send Sasha packing?

This was a quick, unchallenging read.  Sasha begins her academic career at exclusive Canterwood Crest, an elite school where she hopes to realize her dreams of becoming an accomplished equestrian.  The school has a highly competitive riding program, and Sasha is eager to begin working hard to hone her riding skills.  But first she has to prove that she deserves her spot on the team, and with rival Heather and her followers dogging her steps, that’s not going to be easy!

This book piqued my interest because it’s about horses.  Yeah, I am pretty one-dimensional.  I like comics, books, horses, and video games.  Simple.  Sasha gets to live a dream of mine; her parents are willing to foot the bill to send her and her horse to school.  I had to wait until I was old and gray to take riding lessons, and even now I have to scramble to keep my ponies feed.  How lovely it would be to have someone else worry about covering all of the bills for me.  Next life, maybe.

Getting back to Sasha, she and her horse, Charm, are hunter/jumpers.  This was interesting, because I ride saddleseat, and don’t really know all that much about leaping over standing obstacles.  Since my bones are brittle, it just doesn’t sound like a good idea to go barreling over fences.  Sasha and Charm are fairly good at it, and Sasha has dreams of competing on an international level. That would be exciting.  I know that competing at the World Championship show in my discipline is thrilling and I work all summer just to compete in Oklahoma.    Right off the bat I understand Sasha and share her ambitions.

Take the Reins skewed a little young for me, though, and I had some difficulty finding some of predictable plot points intriguing.  Heather and her friends set out to make Sasha’s life miserable by playing pranks on her and setting her up to get in trouble with the riding coach. Which brings up another disappointment; all of the adults are either dumb or clueless or both.  Mind games are part of any competitive sports, and riding is no different.  If you can intimidate your opponents before they even get into the ring, you have created a huge edge for yourself.  Heather loves to play mind games, and Sasha is at first taken aback by these cut-throat tactics.  Mr Conner, the riding coach, would have seen intimidation tactics in action a hundred times in the past, yet he comes across as being oblivious to, and even a little surprised by, all of the team infighting. 

I liked the book enough to place a request for the next volume at the library, but I was still a little disappointed with the cookie cutter plot.  I was hoping for more horsey stuff and less of Sasha studying to keep up in her classes.  I am still enamored with the thought of actually getting to take a horse to boarding school.  I wonder if I can take mine to the nursing home?

Grade: C+

This book was rented from my local library.  Support your library!

One thought on “Canterwood Crest: Take the Reins by Jessica Burkhart Novel Review

  • May 9, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    this sounds like a real intresting book

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