Tuesday, March 14, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

Transcendent, magical. A tale that strikes you deep in the heart as it lifts you up.

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Print Length: 240 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (October 11, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1101939753
ISBN-13: 978-1101939758

In the mirrors of Briar Hill Hospital winged horses live. And for a young girl, sick and orphaned, they bring color to her cold world of gray.

I don’t usually read Young Adult Historical Fiction, but a recent visit to the library captured my attention with this strikingly magical cover and I had wondered if it might find my young daughter’s interest.

It failed with her for now, but had me riveted by the first page. With carefully crafted prose we follow what appear to be the delusions of a sick girl with what only seems to be a terminal illness in the countryside of war-torn World War II England. At Briar Hill they are safe from the bombs, but there doesn’t appear much that can save them from the stillwaters that lurk in their lungs and take whom they will. Little Emmaline is a fighter though, despite all that she has lived through, despite where she is and the disease that takes a toll; she finds beauty in the everyday.

There is humor and strikingly heartfelt scenes in a book that is far deeper than you might imagine. Certainly a book to appeal to the young of age, but this is also one that can captivate anyone young at heart.

Moving, magical, the author does an amazing job of crafting a story that leaves the ultimate mystery up to each individual reader to decipher. Some will say the horses were real, some will say they were merely a symbol.

For me, I know what they were. I have no doubt. For I felt the wind on my cheeks as they flew.

(Gah! That was beautiful.)

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