Jason Cockcroft, Running with Horses, Walker Books, July 2022, 240 pp., RRP $29.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781839132087
Running With Horses is a wonderful sequel to We Were Wolves. In the first book, the boy narrator remained nameless but in this one, we learn his nickname is now Rabbit, bestowed by his good friend Joe, after Rabbit and his mother move to the caravan park on the coast. Having witnessed his father’s death in the previous book, Rabbit has struggled emotionally, choosing to be largely silent. But his friendship with Joe is slowly easing his trauma, though the night dreams and sweats continue.
Joe’s older brother Billy is bad news for everyone, including his threats to Joe. The two boys stumble on a man held hostage by Billy and his offsiders. Rabbit’s decision to help the man threatens everything in his newly-established stable existence. Interwoven into all the twists and turns are the respect Rabbit has for his mother, the increasing fear for Joe’s safety and the developing love he has for his friend, memories of his former support people such as Sophie and the nightmares about a strange white horse.
I enjoyed this story just as much as We Were Wolves. Cockcroft has created a story with very different tensions, but it is just as gritty and describes a world I have never had to experience. Running with Horses, like the first book, has Cockcroft’s evocative illustrations throughout, used to reflect the mood and enhance the verbal text. They deserve more than a cursory glance.
Though a sequel, Running with Horses will stand alone. It’s highly recommended for thoughtful mature readers, for those who enjoy a dramatic narrative and for those who want to know more about Rabbit’s life journey.
Reviewed by Maureen Mann