Book Review

Review – Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer

Today is my stop on the book tour for Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer. An inspirational memoir of her extraordinary journey of entering and winning the world’s toughest and longest horse race at the age of 19!


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.

My Review:

In summer 2016, on my flight from London to Beijing, we flew over Magnolia on the way. At the time I was utterly stunned by the sheer beauty of the magnificent landscape. I wondered how I could ever describe this breathtaking view so others could understand how truly spectacular Magnolia was. Now, I know. Lara did it in Rough Magic.

Rough Magic is the recount of her experience of not only entering the world’s toughest horse race, Mongol Derby, at only 19, but also winning it as the youngest and first female contestant in history. The race was over 1000km long and was finished with 25 horses. I was so surprised and shocked to find out that Lara entered this race on a whim, she was underprepared to say the least. To have won this race was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Rough Magic is very adventurous, evocative, inspirational and at times incredibly moving. It is surprisingly a very fast read. What I love most about this book / memoir is that it sometimes doesn’t feel like a memoir. It reads so lyrical and poetic. It feels like Lara has been an author all her life. The descriptions of the landscape is majestic; the retelling of her interactions with her competitors and the local residents is comforting and entertaining; the parts of her relationships with her horses are incredibly moving. The whole book, to me, read so romantically. It has witty and beautiful prose.

I really enjoyed it! I wish Lara all the best in her future adventures and books (I think she is so very good at it!)

Thank you so much Bishneen and Ebury Publishing for providing me with this beautiful copy to review.

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