"Deserves a spot on the shelf next to the most beloved children's classics—yes, even The Secret Garden." —Shelf Awareness, Starred Review
Described as "reminiscent of the Chronicles of Narnia" in a starred review, The Secret Horses of Briar Hill shows readers everywhere that there is color in our world—they just need to know where to look.
There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital—the mirrors that reflect the elegant rooms once home to a princess, now filled with sick children. Only Emmaline can see the creatures. It is her secret.
One morning, Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens and discovers something incredible: a white horse with a broken wing has left the mirror-world and entered her own.
The horse, named Foxfire, is hiding from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep him from finding her new friend, she must surround Foxfire with treasures of brilliant shades. But where can Emmaline find color in a world of gray?
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2016
"Endearing characters, metaphors for life and death, and a slow revelation of the horrors of war give this slim novel a surprising amount of heft."—Booklist, Starred Review
"In clear, gripping, flawless prose . . . this exquisite, beautifully illustrated middle-grade novel explodes with raw anguish, magic and hope, and readers will clutch it to their chests and not want to let go."—Shelf Awareness, Starred Review
"Reminiscent of the Chronicles of Narnia, Elizabeth Goudge, or a child's version of Life of Pi. . . . Readers will love this to pieces." —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"Magical, terrifying, and full of heart. Open these pages, and ride true."—Newbery Honor-winning author Kathi Appelt
"A remarkable book. Astonishing!"—Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse
Shepherd (The Cage) blends the historical with the fantastical in her deeply moving first middle grade novel, set during WWII. Twelve-year-old narrator Emmaline is convalescing in a hospital in the British countryside for children with "stillwaters," the girl's term for tuberculosis. Emmaline chafes at the requirement to remain cloistered indoors, and instead sneaks off to the sundial garden on the estate's grounds. Emmaline believes she sees winged horses in the hospital's mirrors, and when a horse with a broken wing appears in the sundial garden, having apparently crossed over from the mirror world, Emmaline resolves to protect her from a malevolent black horse. Shepherd's strong supporting cast includes a benevolent doctor, a one-armed handyman named Thomas, a kind older girl named Anna, and a boisterous group of boys, as well as the nuns who tend to them. Shepherd leaves the story's fantasy elements tantalizingly open-ended it's for readers to decide whether the winged horses Emmaline sees and the "Horse Lord" she corresponds with are products of her rich imagination yet the magic in the relationships she builds, even the tragic ones, is undeniable. Ages 10 up.
The Secret Horses of Briar Hill
I like horses so this book caught my attention. I am always looking for an interesting book for Middle School readers. This was a good choice. This is set in WWII. Emmaline is a person of herself. She is in a hospital as it is for tuberculosis patients. Spoiler. Her best friend is Anna who is at the end. Benny is the bully when the nuns are out of sight. Spoiler. Thomas is the handyman even though he doesn't have an arm. Spoiler. Emma sees winged horses in the back of the mirrors. She meets Foxfire who is injured. No one believes her. Thomas says he can see them. Spoiler I was a bit worried when I saw 43 chapters. It was a hard book to put down. You will come across a lot of hard scenes. I would recommend this to school kids all the way to someone like my 61 year old self. It is different and will carry it with you for awhile. I hope you give this book a chance. You won't regret it. Enjoy your reading! I have this book for an honest review for NetGalley.