Horror at Hope Horse: Never Give Up by Lyndal Cushing
Lyndal Cushing’s novel Horror at Hope Horse: Never Give Up tells the story of Ice Rhineguard, a gifted horse trainer, blind since the age of seven. Ice lives at Hope Horse Ranch, where he works with abused horses, his lack of sight giving him a unique ability to work with both animals and people. Hope Horse is also a haven for Ice’s childhood friend, Lauren, who endured years of abuse at the hands of her father, and the kindly, maternal M, Maureen Webber, who cares for both Lauren and Ice, as well as Ice’s teenaged protégé, Justin. This idyllic setting is quickly spoiled by the arrival of new trainer, Dahvid Ghiara. Dahvid quickly comes between Ice and Lauren and delights in tormenting Ice. Dahvid’s behavior, however, is quickly overshadowed by the supernatural forces that seem set on hurting Ice and those he loves. Ice finds himself locked in a battle to protect those he cares about and the horses he rescues, even if it means sacrificing his own life.
The story is compelling and Cushing’s characters are interesting and sympathetic. Unfortunately, Cushing’s novel suffers from a lack of editing. Many of the episodes in which Ice is tortured by supernatural entities are repetitive, and do nothing to advance the plot or enrich the story. This is true for other parts of the story as well. For example, a subplot involving Scarlet St. John, a little girl blinded in a car accident, and Ice’s work with her, though interesting, seems to have little to do the overall story. Furthermore, the ability of the Dahvid character to so quickly come between Ice and Lauren, two characters who are so intimately connected, lacks plausibility. Finally, the story is undermined by the many grammatical and spelling errors. Nevertheless, the story is gripping, and readers will want to follow the characters to see how the mystery unfolds.