A novel following two girls — in two different centuries — lost in Montana.
Title: Crow Mountain
Author: Lucy Inglis
Publisher: Chicken House Ltd
Grades 8 and up (contains sexuality)
Available on Amazon.
Crow Mountain tells two stories. In the first, Emily is a British aristocrat making her way to Portland to a prearranged fiancé when tragedy strikes and she finds herself hurt and alone in the wild territory of Montana in 1867. The second follows Hope, a home-schooled teen tagging along with her scientist mother studying the ecology of present day Montana, that discovers Emily’s diary.
This novel is a sappy romance story that might make even Nicholas Sparks roll his eyes and, honestly, I thought there were going to be more horses involved … but I still loved it.
Told through alternating narratives, Emily and Hope’s lives both take a crazy turn when they enter Montana and meet their fated love interests. Emily’s stagecoach crashes through a bridge, killing everyone else on board and stranding her helplessly with railroad scout Nate. Sweet as saccharine from the beginning, the tension in the relationship came from the fact that Nate would not help Emily find her way back to civilization. How the author managed to make me swoon with a plot similar to Lucy Christopher’s Stolen or Kathy Bates’ infamous film Misery is beyond me, but she did.
Through run-ins with buffalo hunters and Nate’s “second family,” the Apsáalooke tribe, Inglis paints a grand portrait of Montana in the late 19th century while Emily bonds with a mare named Tara. It is through that relationship that Emily begins to shed her ” trained properness” for the first time in her life.
Tara was biddable and forgiving; we raced up and, even more exhilarating, down the meadow at a flat-out gallop for the most of the final day: That’s it! Lean into it. Knees tights, weight in your heels. Now you’re talking! Bring her around sharp now. She turns on a pinhead, so be ready and hang in there! And I enjoyed it. Better than that, I loved it.
I especially loved the praise the author gave the horses during the battle scenes.
Tara hurtled onto the plain, my face by her neck, legs tight, reins caught only by a thread. She knew what was required of her, always, and speared straight for the hunter’s large bay gelding.
Hope’s story was the lesser of the two in my opinion, but still entertaining. Her and her love interest, Cal, share a similar fate with Emily when their truck falls through a bridge. They survive in the wilderness while working their way through Emily’s diary and, oh yeah, they fall head over heels in love. The tiny mystery of Cal painted as a “bad boy” by the local Sheriff keeps things interesting.
I really enjoyed the conclusion of the novel and even got a little teary eyed at one point. Without giving away any spoilers, both stories intertwine seamlessly with one giant — albeit very predictable — epiphany and, as the author describes it, “the horse of a lifetime.”
I give Crow Mountain 3 1/2 Golden Horseshoes.