Twelve-year-old Gillian had never been so scared as the bus wound its way toward Canyon Falls summer camp. She had been dreaming about a horseback riding experience like this for years, but now that she was actually on her way, she was terrified. She had never been away from her family, never mind for a whole month. Would she make friends? Would she be able to keep up with the other girls’ riding?
When Gillian finds herself paired with Beauty, a beautiful silver-gray mare, the negative voice in her head eases up. But then her fears begin to come true. Snobby Katrina causes an accident that injures Beauty and another rider, Gillian’s best friend. Gillian ends up atop the Beast, a horse even the camp counsellors struggle to control. Things only get worse when the Beast leaps into a river with Gillian still in the saddle.
Gillian finds herself alone in the wilderness, far from help and facing challenges she never imagined even in her worst nightmares. Will the skills she has learned be enough to save her?
“Sari Cooper’s first 'Camp Canyon Falls Adventure' novel offers both adventure and drama for young readers, and it would be a good fit for both struggling and grade-level readers. The pace is good, the writing is descriptive without being flowery, and any horse-riding terminology is explained clearly but doesn’t overtake the story. Overall, The Horse of the River would make a solid addition to a young adult library collection, especially for horse-lovers, and I’ll be looking for future 'Camp Canyon Falls Adventure' titles.” —Allison Giggey, Canadian Review of Materials, October 4, 2019