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Dark Horses

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,533 ratings  ·  504 reviews
A darkly gripping debut novel about a teenage girl’s fierce struggle to reclaim her life from her abusive father.

Fifteen-year-old equestrian prodigy Roan Montgomery has only ever known two worlds: inside the riding arena, and outside of it. Both, for as long as she can remember, have been ruled by her father, who demands strict obedience in all areas of her life. The warpe
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 16th 2021 by Gallery/Scout Press
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Avid No. (Goodreads is making me add more detail.) It’s written in past tense.

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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,533 ratings  ·  504 reviews

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WOW...I could not put this book down.

This is a fiction book that has a lot of hard to read topics in it. This book made me feel so much, but I have to say a lot of hard to read things happens in this book. If you have trouble reading hard hitting books that covers dark topics this is not the book for you. I loved this book, and it was so well written. The characters were so well developed. I wanted to safe some, but on the other hand I wanted to jump into the book and kill one of them. I think
Will Byrnes
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
”The dominant stallion chases even off his male offspring when they’re two or three years old. It avoids inbreeding. Nature’s smart.”
…”What about the female offspring?” Will said.
“He doesn’t breed with them. They’ll breed to one of the subservient stallions.”
“Would horses like this know not to do it?”
“No,” Daddy began, but Mateo approached us leading Noble, who was tossing his head and rattling the stud chain, and we went temporarily single-file to allow them to pass. “These animals haven’
If someone told me that I'd be giving a book about a teenage girl riding horses 5 stars, I'd tell you that you were crazy. Susan Mihalic's Dark Horses is so, so much more than that. I cannot believe this debut has me up until 1 AM, rushing to finish! A powerful coming of age story, Roan Montgomery battles her difficult upbringing, while trying to have it all.

Disclaimer: This book includes serious and sensitive topics involving sexual assault and rape between family.

The Montgomery family is
Catherine Woodward
Mar 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
Haunting, disturbing, powerful, and completely unforgettable!

Roan has never known life outside of a saddle: her father was an Olympic rider, and has brought her up deeply engrossed and embedded in the equestrian world. She attempts to lead a 'normal' teenage life, but at the tender age of 15, is already buried in secrets that threaten to destroy her. Her mother struggles with alcohol abuse and is having an affair, and Roan's relationship with her father is controlling, demanding, twisted, and c
Bonnie Brody
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Dark Horses could have been a compelling novel if it had rung true or let readers think for themselves. Every response to horrific acts of sexual abuse were described graphically and the narrator exhilarated in giving the reader the 'correct' emotional and rational response to each incident.

Roan is 15 years old, almost 16, and lives with her parents on a large Virginia horse ranch that specializes on breeding the best of horses. Roan's mother is an substance abuser and alcoholic and is emotional
Dark Horses is a shocking, heart-pounding debut; it’s both a coming-of-age novel and an unflinching story of resilience and survival. Fifteen-year-old Roan Montgomery is an equestrian prodigy; she attends a private high school, where she is given a special schedule allowing her to miss afternoon classes to train for her horseback riding events, which are a stepping stone to her plan of one day riding in the Olympics. In spite of her shortened class schedule, Roan receives straight As, and isn’t ...more
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Perhaps it was because of having four daughters and going through the turbulent teenage years that made this story resonate with me. Perhaps it as because I had liked My Dark Vanessa, where the author so well understood a teenage girl's fragility. This well written saga, allowed the reader to climb into the mind and soul of its young protagonist as well as the blackened soul of her father. It is one that comes with a caution because it presents a very dark side to the world we inhabit.

Roan Montg
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Very Dark
Horse Competition

5/5 stars
Must Read

So right away, I need to say that this has some dark subject matter....but realistic subject matter. This book was so well written that I really felt I understood Roan. As a parent, it is hard to comprehend such hell that another parent could inflict on their child and the author really gave us very well balanced characters. This book was a page turner from the start.
Mar 10, 2021 rated it it was ok
This is the second intense book I have read lately on the subject of sexual abuse, and I've definitely had enough of that subject for the time being. I had the same feeling when I finished reading this book as I did years ago after I went to a Britney Spears concert - like I should bleach my eyeballs (and I love my girl Britney lol). I'm not trying to make light of the subject matter, as it horrifying and reprehensible; but this book was troublesome to me in that it is almost presented as YA (es ...more
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I almost never read literary fiction, but I was curious when looking at the GR description on this and entered a Goodreads Giveaway. I won it and was able to experience this incredible book. What a lucky stroke of chance, because it was powerful.

TLDR Tropes

- CW : sexual/physical/emotional abuse
- Dark family drama
- Female centered storyline of overcoming trauma
- Quick read
- very dark.

Roan comes from a family of equestrians and herself is very accomplished. At home she lives with a mother who wis
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell
This sounds FUCKING AMAZING and I need it
Apr 12, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: one-star
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Take Jaimy Gordon’s award-winning Lord of Misrule and combine it with Kate Elizabeth Russell’s startling My Dark Vanessa and you’ll have a clue as to what awaits you in Susan Mihalic’s dark and disturbing new novel.

But just a clue. This author has a voice, style and story that’s all her own. It’s not for the faint-hearted. The topic of incest never is. But for those who can handle the subject material, the pages can’t turn fast enough.

Our narrator, Roan Montgomery, is 15 years old when we meet h
Lori Tatar
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dark Horses by Susan Mihalic could almost be YA but has such a sensitive topic, I would be hesitant to classify it as such. It is a breathtaking and gripping look at a teen girl’s life in a wholly dysfunctional family. To say the writing is masterful would be an understatement. There are no words for this debut. It is a one-sit reading, completely impossible to leave for interruptions. The story is destined to stay with you, even change you. At times I had to remind myself to breathe. This is a ...more
switterbug (Betsey)
I am the wrong reader for this book—call it occupational hazard, as I’ve been a pediatric psychiatric nurse for twenty years, and can’t help comparing the teen protagonist, Roan, to the actual children and teens I’ve worked with in her situation. Mihalic sets up a suspenseful narrative, as far as keeping the reader on edge throughout the novel. The story is not boring--it is rather exciting--although melodramatic--and I suspect that any reader will be turning the pages with anticipation and horr ...more
Molly Weisgrau
Oct 19, 2020 rated it did not like it
*I was sent a free ARC of this book by Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review*

Soapy and melodramatic, Susan Mihalic’s Dark Horses follows Roan, a high school junior and equestrian prodigy navigating an absent mother and a long history of sexual abuse at the hands of her father in the midst of preparing to join the olympic equestrian team.

I have a few issues with this book, rooted in its being pretty clear-cut tragedy porn, a la Flowers in the Attic for over 90% of its (very long) durati
Valerity (Val)
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, animal, fiction
What an intense debut novel from this author! I like to toss in an occasional work of fiction to keep things different now and then, and this was quite a random choice, wow. It started off rather easy and built the tension throughout. There are some difficult, painful things going on in the story, to be sure, and I was curious to see how the various storylines would play out. Very readable, some shock factor built in. Not for the faint hearted. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetG ...more
First off, I was given this book by Scout Press and Simon and Schuster. Thank you.

Possible spoilers.......

I am not giving this book a star rating due to the subject matter. This is another one of those books that turned me sideways and I can’t give it a proper rating.

The story was very will written and it drew me in from the first sentence.

The subject matter could cause serious triggers in some readers and the copy of the book I read has a warning on the front cover. I didn’t go into the story b
Bill Kupersmith
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Equestriennes figure among my favorite main characters in fiction, especially Thea Atwell in Anton DiSclafani’s The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, and Lee in Heather Lewis’s House Rules. Lee is the bravest teen athlete I have ever found in fiction. Competitive riding is both very glamorous and extremely dangerous, glamorous because the horses and the outfits are gorgeous and dangerous because you can easily break your neck. Like yachting, riding is a sport of the rich. And like yachting, it ...more
Apr 18, 2021 rated it it was ok
Triggers: child abuse, explicit sex, mental health, phycological abuse, sexual abuse (including rape), pedophilia, incest, substance abuse, death of animal.

This one really wasn’t for me.
But you know the drill. Books speak differently to each one.
I know that I’m in the minority, so do not mind me.
It pains me to say that I was extremely disappointed with this one.
I was expecting a groundbreaking drama, but unfortunately the writing did not work for me.
The subject matter is a hard and disturbing
Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
I never would have thought I’d read a book about a girl and horses, but here we are. And wow, was it good. BUT SO DARK. It’s hard not to fly through this book to know what happens next. I was completely absorbed by this (very) intense story. I felt so many different emotions by the end of this book, some that even confused me.

Trigger Warning: hard topics are discussed in this book in detail, especially the sexual abuse.
I won a copy of Dark Horses from the publisher via a Goodreads giveaway

All the trigger warnings - This is a very a difficult and uncomfortable read. Just thinking about the topics of incest and child abuse can trigger strong emotions and Dark Horses was relentless in describing Roan Montgomery's experiences with her father making this a very challenging read. Roan's voice throughout was powerful and authentic and I could not put the book down. I was very quickly emotionally invested in this sto
OUCH … my heart.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that is so compelling, emotional and raw that I quite literally didn’t want to put it down. At the same time, it’s really uncomfortable and has a lot of potential triggers (listed below), so be warned. In this story, author Susan Mihalic pulls back the veil on a taboo subject that no one wants to think about, much less look at in such a stark and unflinching light.

Roan Montgomery is the 15-year-old daughter of a renowned Olympic medal
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was a strange and difficult read, about an intense relationship between a father and daughter. It was intense because he was not only her father, her trainer(a former Olympic equestrian champion intent on her traveling the same path), but also her rapist, for as long as she could remember. I am not knowledgeable about incest, but I understand some of the psychology of sexual abuse and why victims do not tell-first because they do not know it is wrong, and then shame and fear when they reali ...more
Laura Peden
Dark Horses is the incredibly dark story of fifteen-year-old equestrian prodigy Roan Montgomery. She’s the daughter of an Olympian & a model, with a bright future ahead of her. Ever since she was four, her father has been sexually abusing her, and he controls every aspect of her life. Her mom is a drunk & aware of the abuse but never does anything to stop it. She’s able to endure it all until she meets Will Howard, a classmate from school, and falls in love for the first time. She soon finds her ...more
Renita D'Silva
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly powerful blockbuster of a book. Wow! I am just blown away by the elegance of the prose and the sensitivity of this author - I just cannot believe this is a debut. I started reading it last night - a mistake as I just couldn't put it down. I was reading with tears falling down my face.

Such a harrowing tale, beautifully, poignantly, sensitively told in spare yet elegant, beautiful language. Loved this so much. Loved Roan. What a strong, amazing, wonderful girl. A stunning, thought pr
Janelle Janson
Review to come
Feb 11, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2021
This is the dark story of a teenage girl's double-life. She is a star equestrian and horses are her escape from her sexually abusive father (who also happens to be her trainer). For me, it was just a so-so read.
Thanks to Goodreads & Scout Press for the ARC.
Lisa | Lady_Logomancer
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Ok, first things first this book has many content warnings. The two most important are rape/sexual abuse of a minor and animal death.

It’s hard for me to put into worlds how I feel after spending a large part of the day reading this book with almost no breaks. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. The pacing, the character development, and the outrage you feel is a roller coaster and there was no way I was taking this book in chunks. It was an all or nothing read.

That said, I had to put it down and
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
WOW - - I almost don’t even know where to start talking about this one. I guess first things first, this book came with a giant trigger warning label that definitely should be taken seriously. If I could wrap this up into one word it would be powerful. Being that it is from Ronan’s POV we get not only a detailed description of the events unfolding in her life but also a peek into her psyche. My mood fluctuated between raging anger, tears, and holding out a sliver of hope that things would get be ...more
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Susan Mihalic has worked as a book editor, curriculum writer, writing instructor, and freelance writer and editor. She has also taught therapeutic horseback riding. She graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi and now lives in Taos, New Mexico.

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