Title: Running with Horses
Author: Jason Cockcroft
Illustrator: Jason Cockcroft
Publisher: Andersen Press
Genre: Teen fiction/young adult, Contemporary
Book format: Digital pre-publication copy
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Description:  Rabbit and his mum have moved to the coast to run a small caravan park. Rabbit has been struggling since he saw his father die – he finds it hard to speak. When he befriends a local boy, Joe, Rabbit begins to feel better – but he keeps having strange dreams of a frightened white horse. Hunting for the animal, the two boys stumble across something much more dangerous: a man being held hostage by a criminal gang. Their discovery will set them on a dangerous path that will risk everything Rabbit holds dear…

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  I really enjoyed this book, even more than the previous book We Were Wolves!  Rabbit and his mum have moved to East Ferry where his mum helps to clean and look after a caravan park.  While Rabbit doesn’t talk much, hence his name, he and Joe are the best of friends.  One hot summer day, Joe takes Rabbit to see a dead horse, but the boys soon come across a hole in the ground with a door over it, and when the boys open the door, they find a man stuck in a hole, pushed down there by someone Joe knows.

Running with Horses digital image one
Image of illustration from digital copy I read

This is an interesting story from the start with our narrator, Rabbit, telling his story of what happened during one summer.  It’s been some months since the events of We Were Wolves took place, and now the narrator of that book, the boy, has a new nickname of Rabbit.  While Rabbit is still affected by the events of the past, things in his life feel better now, especially after he and his mum moved to the coast and he has now met Joe.  Joe and Rabbit are the best of friends, inseparable, and do everything together, but when Joe leads Rabbit to the man in the ground, Rabbit soon discovers something dark happening with Joe’s brother Billy.

I like this story better than We Were Wolves, probably as there wasn’t the foreshadowing of what would happen at the end.  As a result I found myself instantly swept up into the story and I really enjoyed finding out what happened with Rabbit and Joe and the man in the hole they find.  Once we discover who has dumped the man in the hole and why, the story takes us on a deeper track, with Rabbit wanting to help the man which he soon tries to do.  I like where the story goes and how we later find out more about the man who was stuck in the hole, and more about the horse that plagues Rabbit’s dreams.

The tale is quite gritty and dark in places with some violence and arson taking place.  The story is interesting and exciting though, especially the further it gets in and how tense things get when Rabbit is trying to help the man.  There are some deeper moments I enjoyed too, Rabbit learning more about Joe’s past and the bond between the two of them being so close that it was lovely to see their friendship and the way Rabbit cares for Joe even more than we first think.  As the story draws towards the ending, I like how we finally find out Rabbit’s real name (something that’s been missing since the first book) and how he grows as a character.

There are illustrations throughout the book, on some pages and I assume they either take up a whole page of part of a page or are fitted around the text like in the first book.  I have only had access to a digital copy of this book so far, and so have seen the illustrations but not the way they are formatted around the text.  The illustrations are all lovely though, in black, white and grey and they are so mesmerising to look at.  I’ve shared a couple of images of pictures in this story, which are so detailed and bring to life some of the magic of the story.

The ending is very good, a lot happens and it was so dramatic and exciting.  Thigns take a dark turn, especially when Rabbit is searching for someone at the end, and I like how this book kept me guessing at what would happen, it ending in a very satisfying way.  I do like how Rabbit and Joe both grow and how Rabbit’s story especially sees him grow and mature a lot through the book, and how he feels more sorted out in his mind with everything that’s happened to him, including with his dad by the end of the story.  I also like how we see mentions of characters from the first book, like with what happens with Sophie too.  There are occasional uses of the s and b swear words but it’s not frequent.  There is also some violence described including violence towards a child.

Image of illustration from digital copy I read

Overall I have really enjoyed reading this story, so much more than We Were Wolves!  This book could be read as a standalone, there is enough mention of what happened in the previous book to understand Rabbit’s back story.  However, I did try reading this book first and it just didn’t have the same impact as it did when I read We Were Wolves first.  So, although this book feels like a better read to me, I do think you’d get more enjoyment if you read We Were Wolves first.  The book is marked as a fantasy, but I’m not sure I’d call this one fantasy either, apart from the dreams Rabbit has about the horse, and the magical way the horse appears, it really isn’t a fantasy book so much as it is a contemporary one.  A great read, with such beautiful illustrations that I will love to read again in future.

What do you think of this book?  Do you like horses?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂