Book: Stealaway

Author: K. M. Peyton

Illustrator: David Wyatt

Publisher: Cricket Books, republished 2004

ISBN-13: 9780812627220 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0812627229 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0330397391 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0330397397 Paperback

Related website(s): (publisher)

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 10-14

Rating: ***** 5 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Disclosure:  Many publishers, literary agents, and/or authors provide free copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion.  Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library.  No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.

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Peyton, K. M.  Stealaway (Published in 2001 by Macmillan Children’s Books, London, England; republished in 2004 by Cricket Books, a division of Carus Publishing Company, 315 Fifth St., Peru, IN  61354).  Nicola (Nicky) and her mother Pearl, a horse trainer, move to Bloodybow Castle near Hanging Law in the Scottish border lands where her mom has a new job taking care of some horses.  The castle is owned by a retired American multimillionaire, Mr. Rob Robson, who has a son about Nicky’s age named Jed.  The other staff consists of Mrs. Melrose, the deaf housekeeper, and Willy, the old, bent, and gnarled gardener.  The horses are two black Fell mares, Black Rose and Lonely, and Mr. Robson buys a Morgan stallion which he names Stealaway.   But there is also a mysterious white pony that appears from time to time and then disappears.  Willy calls it Rowan.

Five hundred years before, the castle was owned by an ancestor of Mr. Robson’s, Crackspear Robson.  Border raiders led by a neighbor, Walt Armstrong of Wideopen, stole Crackspear’s priceless stallion Flashing Steel, starting a feud that led to the death of Walter’s ten year old son.  One night after Pearl and Nicky’s arrival, Bloodybow is attacked by ghosts that ride out of history to exact revenge against the castle and its inhabitants, both horse and human.  Is this really happening?  Can Nicky and Jed lay a vengeful past to rest before something tragic happens?  And what role does Rowan have to play in these events?

While it  might be a little “too scary” for some younger, more sensitive children, Stealaway is a thrilling fantasy-adventure that is sure to appeal to fans of horse stories, ghostly tales, and histories set in the Scottish highlands.  It shows a definite knowledge and love of horses and what it’s like to ride.  One thing to like about this book is its unsensational nature. The mother-daughter pair move in with a father-son pair. Yet there were no illicit affairs, innuendos, or even sexual angst. American media sexualizes kids far too early, so it is always nice to find a book with likable young characters, a developing friendship, and an exciting, well written, and descriptive plot. It is rather brief, more a novelette—I read it during a two-hour shift volunteering in our library’s book sale room one morning.

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