Series: Vivienne Taylor #1
Published by Amazon Children's Publishing, Skyscape on May 28, 2013
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
Source: Amazon Vine, NetGalley
Small town seventeen-year-old Vivienne Taylor is a talented equestrian with Olympic dreams and a little something extra going on she is also an equine empath, someone who has the ability to read horses minds and moods. When she receives a full scholarship to attend Fairmont Riding Academy, a prep school with a famous riding program, she struggles with homesickness, hazing by the school's snooty drama queen, intense competition in the sport of three-day-eventing, and the not-altogether-unwelcome interest of a hot guy. On top of all of that the horse given to Vivienne via the scholarship is an animal that she cannot read or understand. When Vivienne learns that her new horse Harmony belonged to the school's vet, who recently died in a freak accident, she senses that the horse's aloof behavior may be the result of her witnessing this accident. But as a connection begins to unfold between Vivienne and Harmony, Vivienne begins to believe that the vet's death was no accident at all but rather murder and she resolves, at considerable peril, to track down the killer.
SILENT HARMONY is the first in a new young adult series combining horses, romance, and mystery.
Vivienne, the main character, is a girl I liked quite a bit. With dreams of being an Olympian in the sport of eventing, Vivienne has her life together – there’s no room for anything but school and horses. Vivienne’s talented and dedicated enough to win a scholarship to one of the most prestigious riding schools around, Fairmont Riding Academy, but of course, the school isn’t the horse-lover’s paradise Vivienne expected it to be.
SILENT HARMONY has a lot going on, and for the most part, the author tackles everything pretty well. To start off, Vivienne has a unique gift, one I’m sure many horse lovers would die to have: the ability to speak to horses. Really speak to them, mind to mind, in words or images, depending on the horse. It’s a skill that she’s used to help her mother (a vet) save horses’ lives, and at Fairmont, she employs it to try and learn why her new horse, Harmony, is so sad. It turns out that Harmony’s previous owner, Serena, died in a mysterious accident that might not really have been an accident.
Next, there’s a healthy dash of mean girls, romance, and mystery. Vivienne’s not interested in romance, but that doesn’t stop a couple of guys from trying to get into her pants. Literally. The boys of Fairmont have a bet for the scholarship student – whoever can get her first wins all the money. Now, I know some parents might not like sex mentioned in books. But you know what? Teens are going to do what they want, regardless of if it’s in books or not. Anyway, that’s a whole different argument, but I mention it here because I like how Vivienne handled the bet once she found out about it.
SILENT HARMONY is mostly written from Vivienne’s perspective, but there were a few chapters from Tristan and Riley, two boys who like her. I personally would have preferred the entire book to be in Vivienne’s voice, because her character was the strongest, and it was jarring to go between the different characters. Including chapters from their perspectives didn’t really add to the book for me, because Vivienne was often present in their chapters.
I didn’t really feel the romance between Vivienne or any of the boys, but I’m often picky on romantic relationships. I also didn’t care for the ending; the mystery was resolved without a real climax, which was disappointing. Lastly, for a book on horses and eventing, I wanted MORE about eventing. The second half of the book focuses mainly on friendships, romance, and the big mystery of Serena’s (Harmony’s previous owner) death. But those minuses weren’t enough to keep me from enjoying the book. SILENT HARMONY is a quick, easy read; I was halfway through it before I knew it, partly because I liked the start of it so much.
Overall, though, I think SILENT HARMONY is a book teen horse lovers will enjoy, and I’m curious to see what else is in store for Vivienne.
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