Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

Misty of Chincoteague

The Phantom, a wild Assateague pony, has never been caught on Pony Penning Day. For two years, she’s avoided her captors. This year, however, she has a filly running wild with her. And this year, Paul is riding in Penning Day, and he and his sister, Maureen, are determined to make Phantom their own.

This book has been on my tbr list since I was about 10 years old…and now, six years later, I have finally gotten around to reading it. Wow, I wish I had read it earlier (I seem to say that a lot!) and I think my childhood self does too.

The amazing backstory had me hooked from the start, especially when you read the author’s note at the beginning which mentions that everything that happens in the book is based on real life. Anyway. I am a sucker for tension-addled adventure, and a Spanish galleon shipwrecking ponies on an island east of Virginia? Hello, my PERFECT story!

Obviously, this book is about horses, and I have also loved those since I was a kid. I have a vague recollection of being driven by a friend in the New Forest, England UK, frantically shouting, “PONY!” every time I saw one. I haven’t read a pony story in ages, aside from one on Wattpad, and I really enjoyed this one. Paul and Maureen, the main human characters, live on their grandparents’ pony farm, and the novel shows the every day chores and life they had. For someone who has never really had a chance to properly work with horses, this is absolutely fascinating and really enjoyable to read about.

The characters were very different. My favourite character was Grandpa Beebe. He was funny, down-to-earth and I just genuinely liked him.  Paul and Maureen weren’t particularly 3D characters, but they weren’t terrible to read either. Their speech was characterised by colloquial idioms, and this really showed the time and place the story had been set in, and immediately brought to life the novel. I had to read a couple of sentences through twice to actually understand them, but it was still enjoyable.

The ending to the story was a happy one, which I really enjoyed – it brought tears of joy to my eyes! I thought it was sweet, probably the correct word to use, as, whilst it wasn’t cliché, it was almost a ‘sighing’ end, although still left opportunity for the next two books in the trilogy.

Originally published in 1947, this book follows the traditional horse story pattern, which, personally, was one of its downfalls. This pattern is the stereotypical horse story – children save up to buy a horse, problems arise and troubles occur – both human and animalistic – which are then resolved. Whilst not necessarily the book’s fault – after all, it is a classic – for me it is kind of stale, as I have read horse story after horse story in which the same thing happens again and again. (Still, I’m writing one like this, so I can’t really complain!) However, it was still an enjoyable read.

I would recommend this book primarily to early teenagers, although I am sure older teens and adults can enjoy it too. Perhaps it would make a fantastic bedtime story. You need to know a little about horses to be able to read this novel, but not enough you need to read 50 manuals on the creatures – just simple technical terms, saddle, bridle, that kind of stuff. Finally, I would recommend this to people who enjoy a quick adventure, such as The Fantastic Five or The Secret Seven – it is in the style of such prose, and is quite exciting to read.

TITLE: Misty of Chincoteague
AUTHOR: Marguerite Henry
PUBLISHER: Aladdin Paperbacks
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: Ori. 1947, 1975. This edition 2006
PRICE: US$5.99, £3.89
ISBN: 978-1-4169-2783-9
PERSONAL SOURCE: Present from my mum

PS the illustrations in this edition are beautiful!

PPS Happy Mother’s Day for the UK! Happy Mother’s Day to my fantastic mother, who has been in Belgium this weekend on a school trip (and neglected to take me *sob*). She’s bought me so many amazing novels and is always willing to have a nice book talk! I love you so much, mum!