4 out of 4 stars
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Brave Horse Adventures: The Mystery of Stardust's Diary by Louise Cleveland is an adventurous tale reminiscent of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys with a supernatural twist that I found intriguing.
On her first night in Dunmovin House, Cassy met and became instant friends with Jonathan Lane. She reacted differently to meeting Davy Jennings. She had an instant dislike for the man and considered him to be a high-minded jerk. He had the nerve to flirt with her mother just before issuing a sinister warning to Cassy and Jonathan to stay away from certain places. They couldn't help but wonder what he was trying to hide.
Later that same night, as she was trying to fall asleep, Cassy heard the chilling voice of a young girl speaking directly into her mind saying, "Find Nanny's cabin...Find my..."
Cassy hollered, "Go away!" The voice softly whispered, "I'm Stardust..." and faded away. (location 271)
The next day, Cassy and Jonathan began exploring the area on horseback. They found themselves in several dangerous situations. They weren't sure who they could trust. The local residents seemed to be hiding something. How could they find the truth when so many people seemed to be lying to them? What were they afraid of? What happened to the girl named Stardust?
I truly enjoyed reading this book. The twists and turns kept me guessing. A couple of times I thought I knew what was going to happen, only to be pleasantly surprised when I was wrong. The narrative came to a well-rounded conclusion. All loose ends were wrapped up nicely. Although there was no mention of additional books, an exciting event in the last chapter left me hopeful for more Brave Horse Adventures in the future.
The author added a few extra touches that I liked. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter were fun and interesting. The first quote was Brave Horse's thoughts as he protected Cassy from a savage dog. That act of bravery on the first day they met was how Brave Horse earned his name.
At the end of the book was a Bonus Glossary with interesting titles such as "How to Buy a Horse" and "Caring for Your Horse." In the Glossary we also learn that Brave Horse was an actual horse owned by the author. Many of the places mentioned in the book were based on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains where she grew up.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I found only two minor errors. There was no profanity or anything even mildly sexual. There was also no graphic violence. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a suspenseful mystery that will keep them guessing. It was listed as a children's book, but very young readers would have trouble reading it by themselves. I would not recommend it to readers looking for a mystery novel containing mature material. It may not have been written for an adult audience, but this adult thoroughly enjoyed it. There was not anything that I did not like about it.
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