The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd- Review

 The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

THE SECRET HORSES OF BRIAR HILL
by MEGAN SHEPHERD
Published: October 11th 2016 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Genre: middle grade > magical realism, horses, historical fiction (WWII)
Pages: 240p
Source: library borrow
Rating: ★★★★★
There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.

One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own.

Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?

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This is my favorite middle grade read of the year – of the last three years, actually. It’s a magical realism story set during WWII, where a girl in a hospital sees winged horses in the mirrors.

Here’s a confession: I’m a horse girl. You’ve got horses, you’ve got me. I’ve read a load of horsey stories in my life, more in my youth than I have in the last few years. I think I have the pedigree required to call myself an expert on horse books, and this is an excellent horse book. It doesn’t share many of the more childish cliches of horse books, save one: girl finds injured horse, does everything to save it. And it does it so darn well.

There’s such depth to this that, after the past few middle grade novels I’ve read, I honestly wasn’t expecting. It’s beautifully written. The children behave like children and don’t speak like overly wise adults. It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking while being neither saccharine nor melodramatic. Something about the writing and the story combined to give me such a nostalgia trip that I cried once or twice.

If you know a Horse Girl™ of any gender, send this book their way.

 

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One thought on “The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd- Review

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Books of 2016 (sort of) | READS to LIVE

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