No book could have been so good as the first two in this trilogy. So for fans of My Friend Flicka and Thunderhead, this is a must-read, but they may feel slightly let down.
Once again we are on the Goose Bar ranch in Wyoming, but times have changed. Swallowing his pride and raising sheep (known as woolly maggots by cattlemen at the time) has given Rob McLaughlin an order of prosperity he never previously knew. His son Ken is a young man with a marked absence of daydreaming and a tendency to act on his own initiative. Nell has finally had a baby girl after a reconciliation with her husband. She has domestic staff problems. Howard is at West Point.
Enter Jewel, a black mare stolen by Thunderhead, Ken's white stallion who is running wild instead of being the racehorse Ken had hoped for. Jewel belongs to a neighbouring rancher and his niece Carey, so while trying to find Jewel Carey and her horrible disciplinarian of a grandmother come to stay with the McLaughlins. Obviously sparks of attraction fly between Ken and Carey but the grandmother is so suffocating that readers find her every bit as tedious as Carey does. We'd much rather read about Jewel and Thunderhead running out on the range.
I read this book in the three Dragon sections and I only found parts one and three. The centre is not needed, it is just padding. When I got the second part it just explained what happened to the dog Nell had adopted in one which didn't reappear in three, that was all. Tighter editing would in my opinion have made this more readable. However O'Hara was the daughter of a clergyman and she wanted to get a bit of preachiness into this book once she was established. That's mostly in part two.
There are good descriptions of horse herd behaviour and the tale finishes happily for Ken and Carey, who sounds like she can't get away from that grandmother soon enough.
In Flicka we were told that the horses on the mountains could hear the piano in the house, but in this book, we see Nell playing the piano she has always wanted and finally been able to buy. However Emerson said that petty consistencies are the bugbear of tiny minds, so I'll allow that maybe an earlier piano had to be sold, or maybe it was a record of piano music.
O'Hara also wrote The Catch Colt and The Son of Adam Wyngate for young adults and adults. The Wyngate book is also titled The North Window (as in 'the devil enters through a north window', a line in the book).