Rating: 3 Stars★★★☆☆
My earliest memories are a confusion of hilly fields and dark, damp stables, and rats that scampered along the beams above my head.
Joey is a farmhorse in Devon, happy with his life and the friendship with Albert, the farmer’s son. But then war breaks out in Europe and he is sold off into the cavalry. This war, however, is different from the others and horses have little chance against machine-gun fire. So Joey finds himself doing different jobs on the front, struggling with the mud, the shells and the constant threat of death.
War Horse is told from the perspective of the titular animal. It is sometimes a bit strange to read, since he does not talk back and therefore is more a narrator of the events that unfold. I also felt that his emotions weren’t all that lively.
Still, it is a good book about a terrible time in history. It manages the balancing act between the horrors of the war and still being suitable for children. It does not conceal the realities of war, but it is not too graphic either.
We were into a canter now and still there was no sound nor sight of any enemy. The troopers were shouting at an invisible foe, leaning over their horses’ necks, their sabres stretched out in front of them. I galvanised myself into a gallop to keep with Topthorn and as I did, so the first terrible shells fell amongst us and the machine guns opened up. The bedlam of battle had begun. All around me men cried and fell to the ground, and horses reared and screamed in an agony of fear and pain. The ground erupted on either side of me, throwing horses and riders clear into the air.
War Horse can be read in one sitting and there were some truly heartbreaking scenes in it.
A sweet, sad book for children about a difficult historical time.