It's a good story, but one that, in the hands of a less talented or more self-glorifying writer, could easily have become an unbearable book. It's easy to imagine an endurance-racing memoir filled with nutrition-gel meals and competitive fury, capped by a bit of victorious gloating. It's equally easy to imagine an overly sanitized book, all landscape description and no saddle sores. Thanks to Prior-Palmer's excellent prose and rigorous honesty, Rough Magic is neither. Instead, it's an unusual pleasure to read ... Prior-Palmer writes with a dash and boldness few writers possess; her language seems sui generis ... Her final hope is not to win the race — though she wants that, too — but to let the race make her free. Rough Magic seems to stand as proof that she succeeded. And as I read it from the skyless comfort of my couch, I briefly felt a bit freer, too.
Prior-Palmer writes with grace, giving a measured, reflective account of the race she was unprepared for but still won ... An engaging profile of humans and horses, and a searing, soulful examination of endurance.
... a stunning debut ... In witty, open and revealing prose, Prior-Palmer details a slew of obstacles—from searing heat and pelting rain to food poisoning, uncooperative ponies and, most importantly, a lack of experience and preparation ... Her tale could be pulled from the pages of a Hollywood script, with its sweeping, scenic descriptions of the Mongolian steppe and the allies and fierce competitors who emerge among the unique cast of characters ... a true page-turner, told in gorgeous, descriptive prose that readers will tear through like the ponies racing across the plain.