I love historical fiction and always turn to the back matter first, hoping to learn from the author's process. Alison Hart says in her bibliographical note that to research and write GABRIEL'S HORSES, she read more than two hundred books. The novel also contains a wonderful section on the actual history behind the story.
GABRIEL'S HORSES is set in 1864, and Gabriel is a slave boy, born to a free black father and a slave mother. His father, Issac, is one of the best horse trainers in Kentucky, and that's what Gabriel wants to do when he grows up.
The war complicates Gabriel's life because Confederate raiders are terrorizing local farms, especially looking for thoroughbred horses. To make matters even worse, Gabriel's father joins the Union army, and is replaced by a cruel horse trainer. Now Gabriel must find a way to keep the beloved horses safe, not only from the raiders, but from his white boss.
I would recommend GABRIEL'S HORSES to animal lovers, Civil War buffs, and readers interested in African American stories. The book is part of a trilogy and the other two are GABRIEL'S TRIUMPH and GABRIEL'S JOURNEY.