Originally published in 1965, this wonderful mystery, set in Austria, about the Spanish Riding School and a Lipizzan stallion, has finally been re-released as a paperback.
With a backdrop of a fairy-tale castle set in the Austrian alps and the music of Der Rosenkavalier playing below from a traveling circus, an old horse dances in a meadow, executing the precise dressage movements of the famous Lipizzaners of the Spanish Riding School. The only witnesses are Londoners, Vanessa March, and her companion teenaged Tim Lacy thrown together by chance. Tim pursues his dream of untying his mother’s apron strings by applying for a job at the Spanish Riding School and Vanessa searches for her errant husband, Lewis, supposedly away on business in Sweden, but documented on a UK newsreel with a beautiful blonde during an out of control circus fire near Graz. As usual, the well-known and well-regarded author Mary Stewart creates a fine story where intrepid characters move through a lushly described exotic locale. The delineation between good and evil is clearly defined. Although the heroine has the stereotypical loveliness, intelligence, and quick wittedness that makes her marvelously fun, she is never obsessed with superficiality like so many more modern heroines. The narration moves you along as if you were one and the same as the heroine--you breath her air, your heart clenches with terror when hers does, your skin prickles when in the presence of the ethereal and you quickly adopt and share her high value system. Above all the atmosphere of magic on the air is maintained throughout so that even the most coincidental and improbable happenings seem to gel and fit with a puzzler’s adept precision. The scenes describing the Lipizzans are indeed magical.