THE DARK HORSE by Marcus Sedgwick

THE DARK HORSE

Age Range: 10 - 14
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KIRKUS REVIEW

In spare, powerful prose, set in northern Atlantic lands, Sedgwick tells a coming-of-age story steeped in mystery and danger. Fifteen-year-old Sigurd lives with his tribe, the Storn, in an isolated coastal village. Four years earlier, an expedition hunting wolves had brought back a girl known as Mouse, apparently raised by wolves, and now adopted into Sig’s family. Despite Mouse’s reticence and three years difference in age, the two are close friends. Mouse remains an outsider to other villagers, in part because of her magical power to cast herself into the minds of animals. One day when the two are searching for sea cabbage to make up for the poor fishing that has plagued the village for years, they find a mysterious box. Soon a vicious stranger appears looking for the box, after which the village’s relatively tranquility disappears with the coming of the Dark Horse, a host of warlike horsemen. The rush of events and onslaught of danger push Sig into manhood before his time as he takes on leadership of the Storn. At the same time, the Dark Horse prompts memories in Mouse that lead to a change of character and acts of betrayal that are inadequately foreshadowed and feel abrupt. Sig’s first-person narrative, which include flashbacks that give background, alternate with short chapters of present-day action, with each chapter headed by a small, boxed illustration. Using short, strong words appropriate to the Nordic setting, Sedgwick (Witch Hill, not reviewed, etc.) crafts an effective tale that, despite the unconvincing transformation of Mouse, will draw readers in and keep them entranced. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 2003
ISBN: 0-385-73054-3
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2002




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