The series of books with the overall title of the Phantom Stallion by Terri Farley will bring you through wild Nevada like never before and I would give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. The series follows main character Sam and her adventures and everyday life with her friends and family on their working cattle ranch and surroundings. Horses are plentiful in this series and each book starts a new adventure, a new challenge to conquer. Books can be read out of order or as multiple independent books but as can be expected in a series this long, there will be some missed references and a few spoilers if you do this. The series has 24 books in it and is generally marketed towards those in middle school. However, as the author says “I hear from readers from 8 – 80” ( http://www.terrifarley.com/2006/11/its-him.html and http://www.terrifarley.com/2006/11/return-of-faqs.html). With this said, I’ll tell you what middle school me and current me thought/think about it.
As a young reader I couldn’t get enough of these books. I wanted to live on a ranch, have my own horse named Ace and be able to go on crazy adventures with my two best friends; Jen and Jake. I wanted to see wild horses out my window by moonlight. (All this remains true even many year later!) I loved running across the desert and meeting interesting horses and the people that surround them. When I read these books, I was Sam and I no longer lived in a cookie cutter house with barely enough place for one dog. Rather, I had more horses than one person could ride in a day and bunch of critters running around the yard. They were the first books I read that made me yearn for ranch life and that longing has never gone away since.
As a reader now things have changed. I still adore these books and I can appreciate that Terri Farley is a really good writer. I still picture myself as Sam and I know that if I could just once run across the Nevada desert on horseback I would never be able to stop. Ms. Farley gave me a sense of what it is to live the life of someone on a working ranch and I must say I dream of it even now. However, as an older reader I find that if I try to “binge” read the books (read them all one after another with no break and nothing else in between each one) I find them less exciting because I can see the pattern to her writing. This was never an issue for me before but now I can see that the whole series follows the same type of generic curve. So although I still find myself rereading them on those days when I long for wide open spaces, good friends and all kinds of horses; I space them out and read other books in between.
Overall the Phantom Stallion series is a good read and will entertain you for many hours. It has an offshoot series called Phantom Stallion Wild Horse Island, also by Terri Farley. That series follows Darby Carter in her adventures in Hawaii with her adopted wild Nevadan mustang. Sam and her friends are mentioned occasionally as Sam and Darby are friends. I will post a review about this offshoot shortly and will include a link to it here once I have reread them to refresh my memory!
The picture in this article is the cover of the first book of the Phantom Stallion series!