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Dark Horse #1

Trail of Secrets

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Next Generation Indie Book Awards Best First Novel Nominee (2016)

Sometimes people vanish for a reason...
Spending three weeks of her summer at the Foxwoode Riding Academy in northern Michigan should have been one of the happiest times of sixteen-year-old Brynlei's life. But from the moment Brynlei arrives at Foxwoode, she can't shake the feeling she's being watched. Then she hears the story of a girl who vanished on a trail ride four years earlier. While the other girls laugh over the story of the dead girl who haunts Foxwoode, Brynlei senses that the girl--or her ghost--may be lurking in the shadows.

Brynlei's quest to reveal the truth interferes with her plan to keep her head down and win Foxwoode's coveted Top Rider Award. To make things worse, someone discovers her search for answers and will go to any length to stop her. As Brynlei begins to unravel the facts surrounding the missing girl's disappearance, she is faced with an impossible choice. Will she protect a valuable secret? Or save a life?

209 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 2015

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About the author

Laura Wolfe

12 books230 followers
Laura Wolfe is an Amazon Charts bestselling author of dark and twisty psychological thriller and suspense novels. Her new and upcoming releases with Bookouture include WE LIVE NEXT DOOR, HER BEST FRIEND'S LIE, SHE LIES ALONE, and TWO WIDOWS. The books in her YA mystery series and her adult suspense novel, TOP PRODUCER, have been shortlisted for multiple indie book awards. Laura is a lover of animals and nature. When she is not writing, she can be found hanging out with her highly energetic kids, growing vegetables in her garden, or spoiling her rescue dog. She enjoys living in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Instagram: @LWolfe.Writes
Twitter: @LauraWolfeBooks

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5 stars
66 (52%)
4 stars
34 (26%)
3 stars
20 (15%)
2 stars
4 (3%)
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2 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 30 reviews
Profile Image for Vicki.
1,207 reviews146 followers
March 18, 2017
"Excellent mystery and adventure"
When I started Laura Wolfe's Trail of Secrets, I was immediately pulled in by the characterization of Brynlei and the other girls and animals at the Foxwoode riding academy. A summer camp for girls that excel at horses is the perfect setting for a ghostly mystery. The cabins with squeaky floors and woods that seem to have eyes.

The voice of Kelli Andresen brings the entire story a vivacious and energetic feel. Reminding the reader that these are teenage girls. The horse detail was really nice to read and learn. It is a really great story and kept me involved and interested. If you like a good mystery, then this is a good book to read.
Profile Image for Nina.
Author 15 books62 followers
December 29, 2015
I found this book very hard to put down. Wolfe writes strong, believable characters. And the mystery was very suspenseful. I don't want to reveal too much, so I will simply say that I absolutely wanted to know if Brynlie would figure out the mystery that looms over Foxwoode. I enjoy reading all types of books, including a lot of YA. This novel felt refreshingly different. Yes, there is a romance element, but it is not the focus of the story. Instead, its focus is the mystery, and dealing with friends and relationships in a new setting. The conflicts between the characters were very realistic. Also, Wolfe clearly knows the world of horses. Except for one summer of horseback riding lessons as a kid, and some recreational riding as an adult, this is not a world that I am very familiar with, so it was fun to step into the world at Foxwoode Riding Academy. I actually feel like I learned something, and I am motivated to do a little riding again soon. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves YA.. It is definitely appropriate for the younger YA reader as well.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,139 reviews6 followers
August 31, 2015
I hate to say this, but I usually don't have high expectations when a local author asks us to add his or her book to our collection. Fortunately, this book was not only "good enough" to add, but exceeded all expectations! This was a real page turner that caught my attention and kept it from the very first page. It was a great story, well-written, and kept me guessing until the end. Well, okay, I kind of solved the mystery in general terms a little bit before it was revealed, but there still was a bit of a twist near the end. At first I was a little disappointed in how I thought it was going to end, but then I was happy with the actual ending. I'll definitely be recommending this one to our tween and teen readers, while letting them know that the author lives right here in our community.
Profile Image for Clare O'Beara.
Author 21 books330 followers
May 20, 2020
This is a highly enjoyable and exciting read for young adults, especially girls, who love horses or want to know what an equestrian summer camp would be like. Our guide is a girl who is highly sensitive so she is just the right person to ferret out secrets after spotting the camp ghost.

At the same time, we learn a good bit about advanced jumping training and we meet a variety of characters; there's always something to learn from the interactions. I found quite a few nice surprises which heighten the suspense. Although I quickly solved the ghost origin I still found the end unusual and suitable.

Have fun. Good for readers from eleven to sixteen and horse lover adults. No romance issues although older readers will be aware of suggested situations which are not stated.
I downloaded an e- copy. This is an unbiased review.
Profile Image for Torrey Lewis.
2 reviews2 followers
August 26, 2015
Trail of Secrets is not my normal evening read, but I was asked to preview it for my neices to see if they would enjoy it. I am happy to say that I wholeheartedly recommended it.

The author takes you on a journey to a sleepaway horse camp and keeps you engaged by skillfully reminding the reader that there is a lot happening beyond the campfires and mess halls. It's also fairly evident that the author is a rider herself as she fluidly guides you through the ins and outs of horsemanship and competitive riding without ever getting too technical. Can I make a horse jump a four foot fence after reading this? Nope. Do I kinda feel like I know what it's like? Yep.

I liked that this was not the average "campfire ghost story come to life." It is more of a modern take on the genre with believable characters in real situations. Oh - and miles better than "Wet Hot American Summer."

My two cents.
Profile Image for Erin Fanning.
Author 10 books81 followers
May 25, 2017
I couldn't put down this suspenseful YA mystery, the first in a series, and read it practically straight through. The author does an excellent job of creating a complex heroine complete with her own faults while fully developing the characters around her. I particularly enjoyed entering the world of a riding academy--something I knew nothing about--and learning more about the horses, as well as the instruction and competition. I look forward to reading more of the series!
Profile Image for Kim.
43 reviews2 followers
February 24, 2017

Laura Wolfe has done an extraordinary job of creating interesting, strong and believable teen characters in this tale woven around the mysterious disappearance of a student of the academy. There was no point in this story when I thought ‘ok, I know what’s coming next’! Her characters have been crafted in a way which is just a little kwirky and yet completely believable, which has been so refreshing to experience.

Kelli Andresen is an excellent narrator and her performance of this story is outstanding. I was able to connect with the characters and could easily visualize the settings in this story. However, I am not sure if there was an issue with the length of the finished production or if Kelli is just a fast reader, but I changed the speed of the story to -0,75 after the first chapter. The speed at which the story has been recorded is so fast that I felt like I missed sections. Such a pity because this story deserves better.

Even though this mystery is classified as Young Adult, I highly recommend this book for teens and upward.
Profile Image for Trista Borgwardt.
Author 5 books54 followers
January 20, 2016
Brynlei gets her dream when her parents surprise her with a 3 week summer camp at Foxwoode Riding Academy. Brynlei is a different kind of girl, more sensitive to the world around her. Upon arrival to Foxwoode, Brynlei begins seeing things, a girl, of course these sightings come just after the campfire tale of the teenage girl who disappeared from Foxwoode four summers again. As everyone speculates what happened to this poor girl, Brynlei is convinced that she is seeing her.

Brynlei befriends a kindred spirit who helps her try and get to the bottom of the mystery sightings. There are mysterious things happening, footprints appearing, lights turning on and off, personal items go missing. The story line gets really good as the danger and fear kicks in but Brynlei is obsessed with uncovering the truth that she won't let anyone....or anything scare her away.

Brynlei ends up on her end to uncover the mystery once her friend gets kicked out of the riding academy (a fate Brynlei narrowly misses herself). What Brynlei uncovers is creative and something that I hadn't even considered. The ending was not at all what I was expecting and it was great.

This is a well written book that most people can enjoy, especially YA. I don't know much about horses but the book was written with enough detail and explanation that I was able to follow along and enjoy the story line. The characters were well written with a good amount of depth.

I look forward to seeing more from this author.
Profile Image for D.G. Driver.
Author 23 books84 followers
August 13, 2016
I'm not much of a horse story girl. Aside from some chapter books I read with my daughter when she was in 3rd grade about little girls with ponies, I haven't read a horse book since Black Beauty when I was in 3rd grade myself. Still, the cover of this book is alluring, and I'd heard a lot about it, so I gave it a shot. So glad I did. It is a great summer camp story. It's got all the things you would expect of an all girls' equestrian camp, snotty rich girls, that cool odd ball, and of course the new girl who is so darned curious. On top of all of that there is this mystery about a girl who went missing 5 years ago and is presumed dead, except Brynlei keeps seeing someone in the woods that looks like her. Is it really the girl? Is it a ghost? She is determined to find out. I was going to give this book 4 stars for just being a good, solid YA mystery, but then I got to the final 3rd of the book where the mystery finally unravels. From that point on the drama and tension had me on pins and needles to the very end. I wanted to know how it was all going to turn out and if everyone that I came to love so much in this book were going to be okay. So... 5 stars for hooking me in. A nice clean read, perfect for ages 12 and up. Highly recommend! And double recommend if you love horses.
Profile Image for Tina Collins.
Author 6 books14 followers
January 9, 2016
Trail of Secrets by Laura Wolfe follows Brynlei as she solves the mystery of missing girl, Caroline Watson. The story all takes place at Foxwoode Riding Academy, a prestigious riding school. Whilst training and enjoying a 3 week stay, she becomes mixed up with the case of the missing girl.

It feels extremely weird when you see alot of yourself in a character written in a book. So, in a way, you’re compelled to finish the story in one sitting. Her love of horses only strengthens this view. As you tend to do when you reading something you know a lot about, you find yourself checking facts about that subject. Saying that I agreed with everything bar one fact! That will give the reader something to look for. I liked the story; it combines two of my favourite genres. I loved it, too, when an unlikeable character ended up on her backside.

The ending was not as I expected which is good (I don’t tend to read synopsis’ thoroughly when I review a book.) The characters are believable but I didn't root for any of them, particularly. But, to be fair, I don’t tend to do that anyway. There are one or two errors in the book; they’re small enough to ignore, however. In conclusion, Trail of Secrets is a great little tale for teenagers. Go try it.
Profile Image for (Ellie) ReadtoRamble.
389 reviews25 followers
March 28, 2020
I've never read anything quite like this book before but it was a really nice surprise. I was expecting to enjoy it, but I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. I was really intrigued by the synopsis, I don't usually read very many thrillers or mysteries, and I've not read a book about horses since I was a child, but I'm so glad I gave this one a shot.

The story is fast-paced, filled with suspense and I did not expect that ending! I really liked the writing style and the characters, they were easy to identify to, especially Brynlei and Anna. I also really enjoyed reading about Miss Jill and Bruce was a mystery to me right from the start.

I gave this book 4 stars because I would have liked it to be either a bit longer or for the "reveal" to come a bit later, for there to be something more before it. It was really good and I had a lovely reading experience, but in my opinion it could have done with a tiny bit more "something" to reach 5 stars for my personal taste in books! I would recommend!
2 reviews
August 26, 2015
I truly enjoyed this book, although I am not an equestrian. The main characters kept me engaged and the mystery kept me on the edge of my seat!
Even though the book is a spin on a campfire story, the interwoven flashbacks and beautifully written scenes make it so much more than that.
Trail of secrets is an impressive debut. Yes I am a fan!
Profile Image for Lindz.
41 reviews40 followers
November 26, 2017
DISCLAIMER: I thank the author for sending me a free copy of this book through the Goodreads giveaway.

I really enjoyed this book. The characters were well-drawn out and the situations were incredibly intricate. My only slight problem with this story was in the beginning it described the horseriding aspect of the story in intense detail. Which, if I knew anything about horses, would likely be very interesting to read, but as I don't, seemed to drag the story a bit. Other than that small issue that would only apply to people like me, I really recommend this story for a good book to read on a cold day with a blanket.
Profile Image for Benjamin  Thomas.
404 reviews67 followers
February 5, 2017
This was a good mystery with some unique twists and elements. Can't divulge too much without giving a spoiler away. I found the climax and resolution to be the most satisfying part of the book. Exceptional
2 reviews
February 6, 2017
Good read

I love horse mysteries and this one doesn't fall short. It's not overly romantic, or over the head of non horse people. Love the story and the twists that it takes.
Profile Image for Brittney.
Author 20 books339 followers
June 28, 2016
With this book's description, I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this story. What I found could be best described as Canterwood Crest meets Friday the 13th (minus the gore)! Trail of Secrets is a fun and creepy read! It is set at a summer riding academy and I happily absorbed the summer camp environment -- sleeping bunks filled with haughty girls, campfires, ghost stories . . . and riding lessons and trail rides! I immediately liked the main character, Brynlei, as she has a deep passion for horses as well as an abnormal emotional sensitivity -- which means she deeply feels/connects with others (animals & humans). Her sensitivity also makes her prone to the secrets hidden in the riding academy's past ... *cue creepy music*!

I thoroughly enjoyed this equestrian-themed mystery and would recommend it to anyone looking for a suspenseful, yet light read. Take it with you on vacation or read it around the fire at summer camp!

More Equestrian-Fiction Reviews can be found on Brittney Joy's Blog:
Profile Image for Alexia.
2 reviews1 follower
September 17, 2015
Set at Foxwoode, a prestigious riding camp in Northern Michigan, Trail of Secrets is a captivating mystery about one camper's quest to solve the case of a missing teen. The gripping story line, with its twists and turns, kept me engaged from beginning to end. Although not a rider myself, I gained a new respect for the sport without being overwhelmed or bored with technicalities. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the well-developed characters and felt transported to the fire circle of my own camp days. A great choice for horse lovers or anyone who enjoys a good mystery. This book will also resonate with adolescents who are on a path to self-discovery or any teen struggling with complex family situations. I highly recommend this book!
6 reviews
August 28, 2015
The Trail of Secrets is a thrilling YA novel that is taking the reader on an exciting adventure at a Horse Riding Academy. I really enjoyed this book because its puzzling story captured my attention and kept me guessing about what might happen next. The mysteries include a vanished girl, strange sights and unexplained incidents that send the main characters searching for answers. Intrigued by the ghost-like sightings and hidden secrets, I read this book with intense anticipation. The story totally pulled me in and got me emotionally involved in the search for the truth. I had a hard time to put the book down because the story was captivating until the very end. I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Jill.
383 reviews8 followers
September 1, 2016
Set in Michigan. : ) Brynlei goes to horseback riding camp in Northern MI. She's an awkward 15 year old who has trouble making friends. She also "suffers" from HSP (Highly sensititive person) where she feels things much more deeply than other people and "feels" bad things before they happen. While at camp, she sees things and gets the prickly feeling that something is about to happen--she learns that a girl who disappeared 4 years ago at camp was assumed killed in an accident...but there's more to the story.
1 review1 follower
September 1, 2015
As an avid equestrian, horsey books are my guilty pleasure, and this is one that I would definitely recommend! The story was interesting and well-written, and a few unexpected twists kept me guessing. I thought the characters were very engaging and believable. There was enough horsey stuff to satisfy my fix, but not too much that a non-rider would be overwhelmed by it. A good, fun read!
Profile Image for Brittany Goodwin.
Author 20 books46 followers
February 12, 2016
Really enjoyed this debut novel from Laura Wolfe. There was twist after twist that I didn't see coming, and as a late 20s reader of YA this book definitely has crossover appeal. Highly recommend.
7 reviews
September 3, 2022
Was a pretty enveloping read! Kept me hooked the whole time. There was a bit of talk about previous lives and next lives that was a bit over the top for me personally. I read this book hoping for something casual to just enjoy and was not disappointed.
Profile Image for Toni.
52 reviews5 followers
October 10, 2018
I enjoyed each character and how the author supported the cliches that the grass isn't always greener on the other side and you can't judge a book by its cover.
Profile Image for Cornerofmadness.
1,629 reviews10 followers
October 8, 2015
This was a good YA, more like a 3.5 read for me but there are a couple reasons I didn't give it that fourth start (though like I said, I liked this). Though the character is sixteen, this is good for younger teens as well. It's nice to see a YA that isn't a dystopia chocked full of love triangles.

Brynleigh is a hypersensitive young woman who lives and breathes horses. She is an excellent horsewoman in competition jumping and has saved up part of the tuition and was gifted the rest by her parents to secure a three week spot at Foxwoode Riding Academy. Brynleigh wishes she could own her own horse but while her parents are fairly well off they don't bring in that sort of cash. She'll have to ride one of the Foxwoode horses.

Brynleigh's best friend, Rebecca, won't be going with her as Rebecca is a musician, heading off for music camp and Brynleigh doesn't make friends easily so she's a bit worried about going off to riding camp. And of course, she has that hypersensitive thing going which makes her feel things deeply, connect deeply with all animals and she might even have a sixth sense.

Brynleigh finds her cabin to be both good and bad. She has last year's top rider (the position she covets) in her group and unsurprisingly Alyssa is the cookie cutter rich bitch type. But also in the cabin is Anna, blue haired, nose pierced free spirit who doesn't fit in with the uptight conservative girls at Foxwoode. Anna might just be the best rider there.

Anna and Brynleigh bond and Alyssa of course can't stand them and vice versa. At a campfire ghost story telling session, they learn about Caroline, a young girl who disappeared from Foxwoode four years ago and was assumed to have died in the river after being thrown from her horse. Her ghost is supposed to haunt Foxwoode.

Convinced she has seen Caroline's ghost, Brynleigh ropes in Anna in trying to solve the mystery of Caroline's disappearance. The only problem is someone will go to great lengths to keep them from doing it.

Overall I liked this but I had a couple issues with it:

Okay one big problem I had was how many times we're told how perfect Brynleigh is with horses/riding and how uber sensitive she is. Once or twice would have been enough. It gets tiring and Brynleigh starts to become a Mary Sue in that light.

Also the last quarter of the book is very frustrating for me and it only works if Anna and Brynleigh do the stupid thing and not tell anyone someone is messing with them and if Alyssa is right and the cops are stupid so that bothered me.

That said young girls who love horses and riding will probably love this.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
13 reviews
December 13, 2019
Brynlei dreams of attending Foxwoode riding academy. When her dream finally comes true, she will be able to spend 3 weeks there. while she is at the school she discover a story of a vanishing girl. she begins to feel the girls presence and senses the she is luring in the woods. Brynlei then decides to go on a quest in search of the girl to see whether its actually her or her ghost luring in the woods.
The concept of the story line had potential but the way the book was written made the story line hard to follow. If it was written in a different writing style i would have found this book more enjoyable.
*Rebellion *Horseback Riding
Profile Image for Carly Kade.
Author 6 books71 followers
July 29, 2016
I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this equestrian thriller but I found it a pleasurable read. The story takes place in northern Michigan and Laura Wolfe's Foxwoode Riding Academy reminded me of the places of my youth. A nice light summer read for horse lovers, 'Trail of Secrets' follows the adventures of a horse loving, highly intuitive young woman as she stumbles upon a mystery to solve while away from home at an exclusive summer riding camp.
Profile Image for Julie Osmun.
6 reviews
July 9, 2016
The book captured me in the first chapter. A quick, easy read with lots of details that draws you in and makes you want to keep reading until the surprise at the end. Nice touch in leading us to the next book! An enjoyable mystery for the teen girl or adult! Love the horsey references!
Profile Image for Connie Huddleston.
Author 13 books38 followers
March 27, 2017
Trail of Secrets contains a mystery entwined with a tale of solitude and learning. You will learn how Brynlei copes with being different and learns to accept and be accepted, but you will also read an interesting mystery. If you like horses, you’ll love this book. Try it, you’ll like it.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 30 reviews

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