Exclusive Review: ‘Broken Ponies’ by Sophie Jonas-Hill.

An engaging thriller with a feisty heroine.

After taking some time off work as a casino security guard in Vegas, Rita seeks out her ex brother-in-law, Red, so that he can sign divorce papers.  Whilst she is attracted to him, she is equally afraid of him because of deadly events in their pasts. But Rita is not the only person looking for Red. In her search, she unknowingly becomes the bait in a trap set for Red in a dilapidated, storm-damaged fairground. What do these people want with Red?  And can Rita trust him? She may have no choice but to do so, as her life depends on it…

Whilst this novel was initially tricky to get into, given that it is a sequel, the plot soon became engaging; there were several games of cat and mouse in play, and determining who was a hunter and who was prey was very enjoyable when reading. Despite being a sequel, Sophie Jonas-Hill does a very good job of filling in the blanks for readers who are new to her Crooked Little Sisters series. Summaries of past events connecting Rita and Red to one another were very helpful when building a timeline. When Rita becomes bait to lure Red to the fairground, the tension and suspense quickly increases and I was asking myself whether Rita would survive this ordeal unscathed. There are a few unexpected twists and turns throughout this book which only intrigued me and made me want to read on even more.

My favourite character was Rita because she is fiercely independent and capable. Yet, beneath that tough exterior is a very damaged woman who is still traumatised by past events. In trying to come to terms with and move on from incidents in her childhood, she has created an alternative personality named Margarita. Whilst Margarita was very witty and rather humorous, I think this highlights the serious issue of how circumstances in your infancy shape and make you the person you are today. Sometimes the impact of experiences in your youth is overlooked and its significance downplayed. However, the character of Rita really incited me to think about the importance of a stable, loving and secure childhood home. I additionally felt very sympathetic towards her because she has gone through disturbing events and the only way she can deal with them is to detach herself from them through the personality of Margarita. Equally, I admired Rita’s strength and ability to fight back and try and live a normal life.

There were frequent flashbacks in this book which were very effective in building the characters of Rita and Red. Although Red is initially a mysterious character, his enigmatic nature is because he has experienced harrowing events from the Iraq war which the flashbacks help you to understand. It is impossible to imagine what he witnessed and just like Rita, he is damaged. When certain truths come to light, it is easy to comprehend his pain and feel empathetic towards him.

Overall, Broken Ponies is an engaging thriller with a feisty heroine. Sophie Jonas-Hill does a fine job in making you think about how experiences (both childhood and adult) shape people and impact their lives.

Rating: 4/5

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