Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Classics Club #5: The Island Stallion

The Island Stallion (The Black Stallion, #4)Rating: 6 out of 10

On a remote Caribbean island, young Steve Duncan comes face to face with a fiery red stallion. Steve names the horse Flame and works to gain the untamed giant's trust. But fearsome obstacles arise that test Steve's strength and determination. . .and put Flame's life in grave danger! (A Yearling Book, by Random House Publishing)

C.S. Lewis once said that a children's book which could only be enjoyed by children was no good children's book. I fully agree with that--and, unfortunately, it's exemplified in the fourth book in Walter Farley's The Black Stallion series: The Island Stallion.

Does this ring any bells? If you've read Farley's first and most famous book, The Black Stallion, you know that spoilers the Drake wrecked in a storm and the Black, the huge black stallion sold by thieves from Arabia, drags Alec Ramsay to safety on an island somewhere near South America.  Likewise, Steve Duncan, just as unrealistically horse-obsessed and shockingly impulsive as Alec, goes to Azul Island off the coast of Antago with his friend Pitch to see the horses on the island and maybe help Pitch with some archaeological digging. There he meets Flame--and, like the above  synopsis says, tames the red horse, simultaneously fearing the clash of Flame and a hideously strong piebald stallion. 

The plot comes across as rather shallow--children's books usually are--but, in comparison to one of the most famous of children's books, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, this one falls drastically short. I still find it interesting, but Steve Duncan and Alec Ramsay are just too similar, some of the mannerisms of these characters are irritating, and the over-dramatizing of the savageness and speed and brilliance of this stallion makes the book that much weaker. If you're a die-hard classics fan, under thirteen, or really, really like horses, this is the book for you--otherwise, you probably will waste your time reading it.


  1. I read most of these books when I was younger, and I don't remember most of the details, I do remember enjoying them a lot... I was a little horse crazy. ;)
    Great review, Hannah!

    1. Yeah, I was too, definitely! They are still pretty interesting, but they sort of fall flat after a while. . .like the Hardy Boys books, you know :)

    2. I know... The Hardy Boys books were my favorites for years... and then I realized that all the author did was write the same story over and over but use different names. ;)

    3. Yep, pretty much! It's not very fun when authors do that :P


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