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HOUSE OF THE STAR by Caitlin Brennan


by Caitlin Brennan

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2037-7
Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

When Princess Elen of Ymbria unwillingly arrives at summer camp on a magical horse, she brings three things with her: a talisman, a book of maps and centuries of hostility toward the rival world of Caledon. Her hostility drives much of the book; insults and insensitivities quickly escalate into a feud between Elen and Ria, Caledon’s representative at Rancho Estrella (House of the Star) in Arizona. After several chapters of horse-grooming and Elen’s unremitting resentment, Ria takes a “worldrunner” (a horse that can travel between worlds) and endangers all the pregnant worldrunner mares. The story moves along quickly thanks to high doses of action—the last quarter of the novel is a page-turner—but the plot is thin and the characters’ dialogue is exposition-heavy. Much depends on Elen’s fortuitous eavesdropping and Brennan’s willingness to create loopholes in previously established rules. The concept of the worldroad and Elen’s encounters with the wonderfully imagined Horned King save this from being a hackneyed tale of warring kingdoms and telepathic horses. A fast-paced book for horse lovers and not-yet-sophisticated readers of high fantasy. (Fantasy. 10 & up)