All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Dark Horse – Honey Brown

on April 24, 2013

Dark HorseDark Horse
Honey Brown
Penguin AU
2013, 273p

It’s Christmas Day and Sarah is lamenting her losses. She tells her parents she won’t be coming to their Christmas Day lunch and then she saddles her beloved black mare Tansy. What she needs is to be up in the mountains, away from everything. She packs a few things and then takes to the trails.

The weather surprises her – the flash flood sneaking up on her and it’s only by the skin of their teeth that she and Tansy avoid some sort of disaster. Sarah heads high up the mountain to the Hangman’s Hut, a historical site and where a bushranger met his end. It’s currently undergoing restoration but there’ll be enough shelter there for her and Tansy to wait out the storm.

But then Sarah gets some company.

Heath arrives in the night and Sarah knows that he’s not just an ordinary walker lost his way. Too much of what he says doesn’t add up – the pauses between answers, the way his eyes skitter away from hers. But he’s also got an injured knee and Sarah grudgingly accepts that the two are going to have to wait out the rain, wind and fog together until they can be rescued. But it isn’t long before Sarah starts noticing…things. Why does she feel like Heath is sabotaging their only chance of rescue? Where is his car? What was he doing on the mountain and why won’t he talk about it? Why does he keep a stash of things from her, including some things that are Sarah’s own? And why, despite all of these things, are the two of them growing closer and closer? If Sarah can’t trust him, then why can’t she also stay away from him? She doesn’t know who the real Heath is.

Dark Horse is Australian author Honey Brown’s most recent suspenseful thriller, following up from After The Darkness, The Good Daughter and Red Queen. I’ve read two of her previous novels and love the way that Brown sucks the reader in with a brilliantly written story where everything turns out to be nothing as it seems. So I was extremely excited for this book and I was looking forward to what Brown had created this time.

Sarah has had everything taken away from her at the start of the novel – all she has left is Tansy. She seems intent on going up into the mountains to be away from people, everything. Sarah ran a trailriding business and knows the area extremely well and she copes extraordinarily when the weather turns and a flash flood  damages a bridge. It means that Sarah will most likely be trapped on the mountain until the water recedes, something that would panic most people but not her. She makes her way to the Hangman’s Hut and uses what’s left from the workers who are doing the restoration to get herself comfortable.

The arrival of Heath does throw her composure – as it would anyone’s. She’s a woman alone on a mountain, no way of communicating with the outside world when a mysterious man shows up. He has no gear with him, he’s vague about what he’s doing there and avoids answering questions. He hesitates over his own name. Sarah doesn’t want to trust him and it soon looks like she has all the reasons in the world not to. She suspects him of tampering with her possessions, she suspects that he plans to take Tansy and get down off the mountain alone, leaving her up there. Despite these things and the circling conversations they have that are peppered with distrust, she also shares things with Heath. They share things with each other, their close proximity also forming a sort of bond as well as building up suspicion. Sarah seems glimpses of a Heath she can trust and yet at other times she feels as though he’s going to do something terrible.

The atmosphere in this novel is amazing. Despite it being Christmas Day, it’s raining, the fog is heavy, it’s windy and it’s miserable. Sarah and Heath are almost always soaked to the skin, shivering and trying to warm up using the meager supplies that they have. The weather lends an ominous vibe to this book, it’s definitely the sort of weather where you expect bad things to happen. Despite the bleakness of it, there’s also something terribly romantic about the setting as well. A man and a woman, alone with no way of rescue in the foreseeable future, huddling together under blankets, sharing things about themselves. It makes the reader want to believe in Heath, that he is a good guy and that there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for his vagueness, his abrupt changing of subjects, his refusal to share anything other than his first name, which is so obviously a lie.

And then, despite the fact that I have read Honey Brown before, and I know what she’s capable of making you think, this novel still utterly slayed me.

This is a novel that contains, for the most part, only two characters and takes place on a mountain top and it is a masterpiece. The writing is tight and purposeful and the plot is so well executed. Brown perfectly builds the suspense, the unease between Sarah and Heath but yet slips in the hint, the question, of more between them. Brown is gifted at lulling the reader into believing something, into making them think that they might have it figured out. I love the fact that even though I know something will not be as it seems, I never figure out what it is. The reveal is always mindblowing and it makes the book such an amazing experience to read.

If you like a well constructed psychological thriller or you’ve read and liked any of Brown’s previous novels then this one is an absolute must. It’s a delicate exploration of the mind and what can happen as well as what can happen between two people underneath a fragile trust that keeps being broken and knit back together. It ticks all the boxes.

9/10

Book #95 of 2013

AWW2013

Dark Horse is book #41 read and reviewed for AWW2013.

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5 responses to “Dark Horse – Honey Brown

  1. Danielle says:

    Sshhhhh – I have about 10 more pages to go with this book and then I’m done. That twist – OH. MY. GOD! Honey Brown has done it again.

  2. brendat59 says:

    Great review Bree! A brilliant book!

  3. […] Bree at 1girl2many books was captivated by Brown’s setting […]

  4. […] end of The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead. Also Cry Blue Murder by Kim Kane and Marion Roberts and Dark Horse by Honey […]

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