Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
I understand why the chapters are so short. This is from a kids’ book club, it’s a young reader book, and thus has shorter chapters for quick reading. But why does this need THREE chapters for the epilogue? How much stuff did Farley want to get into this ending that needed three chapters? Well, it’s time to find out because I’m doing all three together to finish out this book.
It’s not that it’s a bad book, and when I was younger and had yet to form reading preferences I might have enjoyed this more, or at least if I was into horses, which I’m not. They tried putting me on a pony once as a kid and I panicked. I don’t remember if it was being off the ground that high, worried that the horse would zoom off even though the trainer was there the whole time, or what happened, and I’ve never ridden one since. Odd because I had a rocking horse as a kid that used springs so the pony was probably safer. But I’ll save the rest for my final review Sunday at The Clutter Reports. Let’s take this a chapter at a time.
Chapter 18: Race Day!
It’s not surprising that Alec is still shaken up by his experience in the Everglades. The Captain’s body may have burned up in the fires caused by the lightning storms, but everything else that happened required Alec be on sedatives for a time. Most of this chapter is about the race, and this time it is mostly, unlike for example “Nightmare” with was about a nightmare for a third of the chapter. I remind you these chapters are around 5 pages in length. So it was nice to see the chapter title actually described the chapter completely. At the end, Henry (one of the trainers I think, I don’t know the series) shows Alec a poster for Ringling Brothers and it includes Ghost, confirming at least that Ghost exists and is part of the circus, Alec assuming Odin sold her to the circus.
You know, if Odin cleaned up the stables that fast, if he locked up the house that fast, and if he sold Ghost…I’m kind of wondering about this guy. Could he, knowing about the Captain’s superstitions, somehow been involved in what happened instead of going to the local Indians? They never got the note from Alec that he was supposed to deliver. Think about this. Ghost is probably worth a lot of cash, being a horse that can perform without a rider if she has the right music. The Captain does nothing during the act except lead her out and get the music playing. This is supposed to make her special. What if Odin plotted to do away with the Captain and sell the horse, setting things up so that the only witness, Alec, would be written off if he happened to survive the Everglades at night? I wonder if that’s where this will go?
Chapter 19: The Greatest Show On Earth
As they take the subway to Madison Square Garden, we see a bit of Henry’s thoughts. I guess they’ve been together for most if not all of the series by this point. He thinks about the adventures they’ve had and how good friends they were (without listing any) but that Alec seemed different, distant, and Henry has a tough time believing in even the search for Kovi. I don’t think there’s been indication that Alec, freaked out as he was by everything, fully believed in Kovi, but the Captain did. However, nobody believed he met the Captain, either. Again, Odin didn’t deliver the note to anyone.
They arrive just in time for Ghost’s performance, and Henry gets more clues that Alec may have been right, at least about Ghost. He’s drawn into her performance while the music gives Alec more flashbacks to the Everglades. When the performance is over Henry stops cheering only when he realizes Alec is gone, probably heading towards the stables. This was the first chapter not from Alec’s perspective since the introduction of Philippe and it works well. Also, I kind of see now why this was three chapters. They wanted to wrap-up the story of Ghost and give Alec much-needed closure to his adventure.
Chapter 20: Coming To The End
Henry follows Alec to the stable area, where Alec meets the man who bought Ghost. What I can’t understand is why Henry is still in total denial that anything in Alec’s story is true. The trainer mentions the Captain by name without prompting by Alec. Remember, Captain Philippe De Pummell was famous in the European show horse circuit and the Captain hoped to translate that to America, a dream he lost due to insisting Ghost be impregnated by the Black without waiting for the end of racing season and his own superstition about Kovi, the vengeful horse god. Odin was mentioned without prompting, as at least part of Alec’s story is backed. Okay, not everybody is convinced the Captain is dead, including the Ringling Brothers trainer. And whatever Alec saw in the swamp could easily be washed away as the story itself had been, by tricks of a midnight swamp visit after a major storm. However, there is enough evidence to back up at least part of Alec’s story. Where does Henry think Alec and the Black were during the storm?
Alec buys Ghost because she’s with foal, in other words he’s sure that the Captain, despite his actions after, successfully impregnated Ghost. This being the last chapter we don’t know for sure unless it’s brought up in a later book. Henry, who has been through a lot with Alec, practically accuses him of lying at this point and gets mad, thinking Alec let the Black do the deed with Ghost (although apparently Black was still interested in the ladies upon returning to the Florida stables…so I guess he really IS a stud. I don’t understand why Henry is this convinced everything in the adventure and not just what happened when Alec went after his scarred horse in the swamps was all imagined at this point but he continues to do so.
Also, since we don’t know for sure that Ghost is with foal doesn’t that mean that taking her away from performing may not be a good thing? Earlier we saw how anxious the Black was to begin the race and Ghost was trained from possibly birth to be a show horse. I don’t know if she’ll be happy on the farm. But I’m not a horse person so I don’t know for sure.
And so we come to the end of The Black Stallion’s Ghost. On Sunday I’ll give my final thoughts on the book itself over at The Clutter Reports but a lot of whatever turned me off to the book was more my tastes and my not being into horses. That and the sudden addition of Kovi into the story. Next month we begin a brand new book and a set posting time for Chapter By Chapter.