In this middle-grade fantasy, orphan Anthea is sent from Coronam to live with her uncle beyond the Wall, where she learns that not everything she was taught to believe is the truth.
Coronam—a kingdom that fears horses as monsters—is all Anthea knows until she is sent to live at her uncle Andrew’s in the Exiled Lands beyond the Wall. The Wall, Coronami children are taught, was built to protect them from the plague-bearing horses that nearly destroyed the kingdom centuries ago. Anthea, not remembering she was born at Last Farm, her uncle’s estate, is horrified to discover that he raises horses. Then she re-meets Florian, a stallion she had a special bond with as a small child, and experiences the Way: the ability to communicate telepathically with the horses. George’s plot is original and taut, and the tension ramps up when Anthea learns that the Coronami have not told the truth about the Wall or the horses. The relationship Anthea has with her cousin Jilly is both adversarial and affectionate, and sparklingly authentic, and Anthea and Florian’s bond, emphasized by narrative segments from Florian’s perspective, steers clear of maudlin. The book subscribes to the white default.
A rich story with plenty of surprising plot twists and a strong undercurrent of female empowerment; kudos for the reminder to readers that what lives beyond a Wall may be a lot like them. (Fantasy.10-14)