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A Devil to Ride by Patricia Leitch: John C Adams Reviews

Book name: A Devil to Ride

Author: Patricia Leitch

Publisher: Armada

Format: Print

Genre: Pony books, vintage children’s books

Publication Date: 1976

Star Rating: 5/5

A Devil to Ride is the second book in the much-loved ‘Jinny at Finmory’ series of pony books.

Jinny Manders and her family now live at Finmory, a castle in the Highlands of Scotland located close to Inverburgh, which appears to be based on Inverness.

The castle has its own beach, and after years of longing for a horse Jinny now has her own Arab mare, Shantih.

Shantih was rescued from a circus, so she is terrified of whips. She responds to any attempt to school her with bucking and rearing.

Jinny is as patient as she knows how, but she has little experience with horses and has never been taught to ride.

She’s terrified that others will notice how Shantih bolts when she is ridden, or that her parents will witness her bucking and rearing. Jinny is constantly falling off her horse.

When showjumper Clare Burnley comes to stay at her parents nearby summer home, Jinny thinks she might have found the answer.

She needs someone with experience to both help her school Shantih and teach her how to ride.

Clare and her brother are both pretty awful. They embody all that could be worst about riders. Their parents are worse, so we are able to see how young people suffer when they aren’t raised to think of others with consideration.

They ride off leaving Jinny when Shantih throws her, and they are affected and loud and utterly insincere. Clare is really tough in her training style, and she doesn’t hesitate to use her whip on Shantih.

I felt so much sympathy for Jinny. Her worries over Shantih made her vulnerable, and it certainly explained how she saw only the good in Clare.

Above all, Jinny tries everything she can think of to fit in with the Burnleys, with some success.

In the meantime, a pair of ospreys have come to Finmory and built a nest nearby.

Jinny and her family volunteer to watch the nest, and experts from the RSPB come to stay in the area. Everyone is terrified of egg thieves discovering that the ospreys are breeding.

However, Jinny’s interest in the ospreys is limited by her continuing obsession with Clare and her horses.

I felt so sorry for Jinny. She is lovely, sensitive girl who cares passionately for animals. She is misguided in her willingness to fit in with the Burnleys, but Clare Burnley is a successful young showjumper.

How many of us aged eleven would have been proof against such glamour and success? Not many, if we are honest with ourselves.

However, the consequences are terrible indeed.

A Devil to Ride was quite a sad book, although I’ve read it countless times and I always enjoy it.

Jinny is under strain, the ospreys are under threat and Shantih is still positively unmanageable. It was brave of Patricia Leitch to resist a happy ending in this book. Better things lie ahead for Jinny, but not quite yet.

Thank you for reading my review.

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John C Adams Reviews A Devil to Ride

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