Shadow Riders came to me in August during the release times of some my most anticipated reads of the year. Tough act to follow!
I loved the premise, two young Canadian prairie boys in 1874, head out in search of their families stolen horses and end up on a cross Canada adventure with the newly created North-West Mounted Police (later called the RCMP). Canadian history is a rich and many colored thing, it has always fascinated me and being a prairie girl myself this story really appealed to me.
While it is both interesting and full of tidbits about the rough start of the NWMP, Shadow Riders was surprisingly dry to read. I found B.J. Bayle, an award winning author of previous historical children's books, seemed to "report" the action, rather than involve you in it. For instance, the boys run into a buffalo stampede at one point, one of those now extinct historical things that always got me excited to hear about growing up, and it was literally just a oh look, huge stampede of buffalo, glad we weren't down there, lasting a mere one plus a bit paragraphs. Which was disappointing as I feel it would have been both an awe inspiring, as well as bone chilling event to witness. God knows its hard to picture from the quiet buffalo you see in reserves and zoos today!
All of this being said, just as I was about to start skimming the story, a hundred pages from the end, it picked up. With the introduction of Potts the Indian guide, the story suddenly had a lot more flair and interest for me.
The intriguing part of the story is all the characters are based in fact (except for the two boys and their family), and it's interesting to see the challenged beginnings of what later became the famed RCMP.
It is possible th story would hold more interest for a younger child if read out loud and in smaller chunks, certainly it covers an intriguing time in Canadian history. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Shadow Riders, By B.J. Boyle
Published by Dundurn Press, 2010