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Customer reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars

on 13 November 2016
Hi Sheena,

I particularly like the way you drew the "Declan" character - he felt really natural and I was on his side from the first page.

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on 7 September 2010
Got this on a recommendation, it was a great read (finished it in 2 days!). Enjoyed the bits about Declan most - he's a character I really believed in, tough but not stereotypical, he just gets on with his life in a quiet way while everything crashes on around him. It manages to deal with serious subjects but always be easy to read and sometimes very funny... I think what I liked most was that it was about real people with real lives and ambitions, and they do change through the book, but they always stay real (no fairytale endings here...). I reckon horsey and non-horsey people would both like this book, I'd definitely recommend it on.
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on 10 September 2010
I really enjoyed this novel. It arrived on a Saturday morning and I finsihed it later that day. I really couldn't put it down. The characters, flawed as they were, were engaging and the plot fast-paced. I would recommend this to both teenagers and adults as it has universal appeal. Altough horse-lovers will love this aspect of the novel, it is equally enjoyable if you have no interest in horses.
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on 6 September 2010
I got this book on Friday and thought I'd read a few chapters with my dinner, and found that I just couldn't stop reading! It goes at a great pace, and I thought the characters were really well thought out and appealing - especially Declan - I found his bits especially enthralling. I would really recommend this book to any teenager or adult who likes a well-written good read. I can't believe this is her first novel - can't wait for more!
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on 6 September 2010
Great read - both for adults and children. This author is one to look out for in the future in my opinion. Very talented indeed.
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on 28 May 2017
A great read not just for teens or indeed horse lovers. Powerful and gritty; refreshing to read something set in Belfast which deals with divisions other than the usual tribal ones.
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on 1 March 2011
Being a typical "horsey girl", and a showjumper at that, I could really get into Vicky's equine world and relate to her. However it was Declan's parts, which intregued me most, and kept me entertained. Having half my family living in Northern Ireland, I recognised the places and slang that he used which made me feel more included in the story. The writing was excellent, and the descriptions of the horses were lovely. At first, I found Vicky a very dislikable character, I found it amazing she couldn't spend any time with her horse except to ride him, so I was secretly glad when her love interest dumped her for being too much of a "princess". She slightly redeemed herself by the end though. I also loved hearing Declan describe everyday equine equipment from his outsiders view ("a big sandy field"- to us a menage, or "it was like a jacked, but with more buckles"- describing putting on a horses rug). So if you are not into horses, never fear, this book will be fine for you, the author has cleverly used Declan's ignorance to her advantage, so other characters can explain things to him. All the teenagers in the book were believeable, from their slang to their crash diets. Spoilt Vicky's inner monologue was also great, saying everything that little selfish part of us wants to, but daren't!
I was reccomended this by an equally horsey friend, so I was a bit dissapointed with the showjumping/competing aspect of the book. It describes a few shows, but not in much detail, so you don't get the baited breath feeling whilst reading through each jump in a round, praying they go clear. Or maybe thats just me :-)In other ways, such as the family drama it excelled itself, as you can see from all the 5* reviews!
The ending also seemed a little too perfect for me, Vicky acted horribly and therefore lost everything she loved, it seemed a bit convinient that she should get it all back in a flash as soon as she showed some redeeming qualities. Saying that I still think its a excellent book and would reccomend it to anyone.
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VINE VOICEon 14 January 2011
15 year-old Declan Kelly has tried to stay out of trouble since being sentence to 3 months in young offender's institution for joyriding. It's not easy. His mother is an alcoholic who hasn't recovered since being dumped by Barry, a drug-dealing bully who physically abused Declan for grassing up his son, Emmet as his accomplice while Emmet himself likes to taunt Declan about his mother.

When an accidental drugs overdose forces Declan's mum into rehab, Declan goes to live with his aunt Colette, who lives in a big house in a better neighbourhood with his cousin Vicky. Forced to accompany Vicky to the stables for her horse riding lessons, Declan discovers that he has an affinity with horses and that they can offer him a better future. But the snobbish Vicky doesn't want Declan anywhere near her home, her mum and especially her horse, Flight, and will do anything to keep him away ...

Sheena Wilkinson's debut novel follows a common theme in contemporary YA literature - a boy leading a life which offers little future finds that there's more out there - but what sets it apart is the authenticity that Wilkinson gives to her characters. Told in first person by both Declan and Vicky, the characters' respective voices evoke their different lives in Northern Ireland and their different perspectives. Declan for me is a real stand out character. Nothing in his chapters struck a duff note, from his unwillingness to discuss his problems to the simple joy he finds in working with horses. Although the snobby Vicky didn't work as quite as well for me, this is mainly because Wilkinson tries slightly too hard to excuse her at times awful behaviour - but otherwise her self-absorption and selfishness is all too believable.

Wilkinson has a fine eye for description and her evocation of the council estate where Declan lives works well. She also manages to convey the joy that horse riding can give someone and although the story hinges on horses, this isn't a `horsey' novel so the horse scenes don't overpower the narrative.

All in all, I thought that this was a well written novel that kept me turning the pages and which showed a real flair and talent for narrative voice. While the story perhaps isn't the most original out there, it is nevertheless told with aplomb and talent. I very much look forward to reading Wilkinson's next novel.
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on 19 May 2013
In all honesty, although horses do form an integral part of the plot, this book is not exclusively a book for horse lovers, but it is a book that all youngsters would benefit from reading.
It covers such a wide base from coping with social deprivation, living with alcoholism, low self esteem and neglect to the social divide between these youngsters living this life and those from the same wider communities who have a far more affluent upbringing and want for nothing. This book covers all of these gritty issues and more with tact and remains true to life and most importantly of all is very believable.

Declan 'The Hood' and 'Princess' Vicky might be cousins but they are worlds apart.

The biggest hardship Vicky has ever dealt with is the breakdown of her parents marriage...however a young stepmother with the same interest in horses and whom Vicky likes very much is not too much a difficulty in her otherwise perfect life. She goes to a good school, has an expensive show jumper (who she has just gotten a place on school SJ team with), has private jumping lessons and her every whim catered for.
Declan on the other hand lives a far less charmed life. Social deprivation is very real in Declans world and with an alcoholic Mother, dead Father and previous conviction for joyriding just for starters I don't need to state the obvious.

Their two worlds collide, quite literally, when Declans Mother takes an overdose and Declan has nowhere to go but his Aunt Collette's (Vicky's mother). Without spoiling it too much, needless to say it's a whirlwind ride of emotions for both the youngsters and as Declan stumbles deeper into 'Vicky's world' emotions certainly ride high with devastating consequences...

Taking Flight is such an absorbing fast pace read that you are quickly drawn into it and I found it very hard to put down indeed.
Declan is an intricate but fascinating character, and a far cry from my own upbringing and experiences (thank goodness if I'm honest) but most of all he's real, sadly very real. There are millions of real Declans out there and Declans story highlights, not only how difficult life can be for these youngsters but also that there can be a different life for them. Anything is possible and life is what you make it regardless of where you come from...this echoes throughout this excellent story.
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on 13 September 2010
This is a gripping read. Well written, exciting and fast paced. I had to read it all in one sitting as i couldn't put it down,so leave plenty of time! The characters are believable and the plot draws you in and flows smoothly right up to the last sentence. I would strongly recommend this book!
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