Review: Up On Horseshoe Hill by Penelope Janu


Title: Up On Horseshoe Hill

Author: Penelope Janu

Published: November 18th 2019, MIRA

Status: Read November 2019, courtesy Harlequin/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

A rural romance with a hint of suspense, Up On Horseshoe Hill is Penelope Janu’s third novel.

Set in the general area of Dubbo, NSW, Up On Horseshoe Hill features farrier Jemima Kincaid, known as Jet. I love that Jet is a farrier, my late father in law was a farrier/blacksmith and it’s a profession rarely credited even though it is a quintessential rural occupation.

There is often something very childlike about Jet, which is not unexpected given her background. One of the main themes Janu explores in Up On Horseshoe Hill is the tyranny of grief, and the struggle to move on from loss. Having lost her entire family in a series of tragedies by her late teens, and then being further traumatised by another incident, Jet is emotionally fragile. In conjunction with her severe dyslexia, and the well meaning support from a few key friends in the close knit community, Jet has been able to avoid confronting her issues and never really moved on with her life.

I’m in two minds about the relationship that develops between Jet and Finn. I liked Finn mostly, his unusual occupation as a jet setting veterinary geneticist adds interest to the story, and though he is almost the complete opposite of Jet I could understand why she would find him so attractive. Finn is generally patient and thoughtful with Jet’s vulnerabilities, and the couple share some nice moments together, but Jet’s emotional immaturity in some of their interactions occasionally made me uncomfortable.

The specifics of the element of suspense in Up On Horseshoe Hill is somewhat unusual for this genre, linking as it does from a local crime to an international issue. I was quite intrigued by what I learnt about the matter.

I enjoyed Up On Horseshoe Hill, it’s a well written and engaging story.


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