THE CENTAUR'S DAUGHTER by Ellen Jensen Abbott


From the "Watersmeet" series, volume 2
Age Range: 12 - 16
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Heavy-handed moralizing weighs down a generic but competent coming-of-age fantasy.

Abisina had thought that the death of the Charach would lead her mother's people, the xenophobic, misogynistic Vranians, to embrace the egalitarian philosophy of Watersmeet, led by her heroic centaur father. But things didn't work out that way: Watersmeet, overwhelmed by refugees, chooses isolation and casts out Abisina and her friends when they protest. Exiled to the south, they find the Vranians suffering from the devastation the war left behind but still no more accepting of dwarves, centaurs and fauns than before. Even worse, Abisina discovers that she has inherited more from her father than his ideals: a legacy that may destroy her sense of self. This title is very much a "middle book," as several subplots are set in motion, but none are really resolved. Convenient revelations provide a hint of back story to the world, but there's not much coherent explanation, nor any nuance to individuals or communities. There is nothing original in the narrative treatment of the magical creatures, who are distinguished mostly by their attitudes towards Abisina: They either adore her uncritically or are bigots and bullies. The overt message of equality wars with the subtext that talent, authority and morality derive from genetic descent rather than actions and beliefs.

Nonetheless, readers who don't mind being bludgeoned with "Tolerance GOOD!  Prejudice BAD!" should find this a diverting-enough adventure. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7614-5978-1
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2011


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