Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer (Book Review)


Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer

Today’s review is very different from my normal genre but it is a book which really interested me and I was overjoyed to be given a place on the blog tour.

Thank you to Anne Cater, Ebury Publishing and the author for a copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.

I do hope that you can join the tour to read the reviews of other book bloggers. The dates are in the poster below.

Rough Magic BT Poster .jpg

Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer

The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. A feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the people of Genghis Khan, competitors ride 25 horses across a distance of 1000km. Many riders don’t make it to the finish line.

In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer – nineteen, underprepared but seeking the great unknown – decided to enter the race. Driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses, she raced for seven days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she found she had nothing to lose, and tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. In one of the Derby’s most unexpected results, she became the youngest-ever champion and the first woman to win the race.

A tale of adventure, fortitude and poetry, Rough Magic is the extraordinary story of one young woman’s encounter with oblivion, and herself.

Rough Magic Cover

Purchase Link

My Thoughts

I was first drawn to Rough Magic when I read the authors surname and remembered watching Lucinda Prior-Palmer win many medals over the years in equestrian events, including the Olympics. The picture of the horse on the cover and the words ‘Riding the world’s wildest horse race’ compelled me to read this book and I am so glad I did.

This is the story of  Lara Prior-Palmer, Lucinda’s niece, who applied to ride in the 1000 kilometer Mongol Derby on a whim. I was surprised to read that Lara didn’t come from a horse loving household, in fact, her father disliked horses intensely and the family were mainly city dwellers. The race had an exorbitant fee attached to it and at just nineteen years old, Lara didn’t have the funds to pay. However, as I would learn many, many times in this book, obstacles do not deter Lara.

The descriptions of the Mongolian landscape and the physical and mental endurance required are told in exquisite, almost poetic detail. I loved the short chapters and Lara’s modest, witty and understated way of recounting what was an incredible achievement.

I felt that race organisers, fellow participants, and even some family members lacked faith in Lara’s ability and expected her to drop out after a few days. She herself admits that she had entered the race with almost no training and little preparation. However, critics could not have known the depth of this young girl’s steely determination.

There is just one thing that bothered me a little about Rough Magic. I would have enjoyed the book more if the author had not revealed the result of the race right at the start of the book. I just feel that it would have added suspense and excitement if I was unaware of the outcome.

Lara has written not just about an amazing horse race but a beautiful, spiritual memoir set in a country that few people know about. She proves that not only is she a fine horsewoman but an incredibly talented author too.

Horse lovers, travellers, and adventurers will adore this book.

Author Bio

Lara Author Picture (1)

LARA PRIOR-PALMER was born in London in 1994.
Her aunt is Lucinda Green, a legendary rider and one of the
UK’s best-ever equestrians. Lara studied conceptual history
and Persian at Stanford University. In 2013, she competed in
the 1000-kilometer Mongol Derby in Mongolia, sometimes
described as the world’s toughest and longest horse race.
Rough Magic is her first book.

“Rough Magic is (Prior-Palmer’s) chronicle of the experience, and if her debut as an author is half as strong as her maiden effort in racing, it will be well worth the read.” HuffPost
“Rough Magic is the most entertaining memoir I’ve read in years. It’s thrilling, hilarious, unexpected, and ultimately breathtaking. I loved every minute of this wild ride.” Abbi Geni.
“Prior-Palmer’s style is a fascinating mix of pep and poignancy. A really terrific story by a spirited new voice.”Sara Baume


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