A young English World War II refugee finds magic tending the winged horses who live in the mirrors of her sanatorium.
Emmaline May (her age is never given, though readers can extrapolate that she's older than 8, younger than 13; as well, she's not described as white, but, along with everyone else in the novel, probably is due to its setting) misses her parents, her older sister, and the horses that helped with the deliveries of her family's bakery. The horses were lost in the Blitz, and now Emmaline, afflicted with a disease she calls the "stillwaters," lives without her family in a former manor home–turned–pediatric hospital. Only she can see the horses in the mirrors; only she can see the mare with a damaged wing who comes to live in the walled garden. The Horse Lord leaves a note detailing what Emmaline must do to save the mare's life, and she embarks upon a quest made increasingly difficult by her declining health. Emmaline's narration is unreliable, flawlessly childlike, and deeply honest; her faith in magic brings her solace and, possibly, healing. The magical realism is reminiscent of the Chronicles of Narnia, Elizabeth Goudge, or a child's version of Life of Pi.
The right readers will love this to pieces. (Historical fiction. 7-11)