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The secret horses of Briar Hill
2016
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Summary
"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
Trade Reviews
School Library Journal Review
Gr 5-8-Emmaline May is the only one who can see the winged horses in the mirrors of Briar Hill Hospital. While their fathers and brothers are off fighting in World War II, the children at Briar Hill are fighting their own battles with tuberculosis. Emmaline tries to tell the others about the horses, but no one believes her. When one horse is trapped at Briar Hill with a broken wing, Emmaline must keep him safe until it heals, but there is a dark and sinister force waiting for the creature. Through her friend Anna, who also has tuberculosis, and Thomas, the lonely young caretaker, who is missing an arm, Emmaline holds tight to her faith in the horses. But when tragedy strikes and the horrors from her past emerge, she must find the courage to keep believing. Fiona Hardingham, a captivating narrator, conveys the bleakness of the children's situation while also keeping just the right amount of hope in her voice. VERDICT Part heartrending reality, part hopeful fairy tale. It is easy to tell that Shepherd was influenced by "Narnia" and The Secret Garden. Readers of those classics will enjoy this. ["Chapters are all very short and well formed around single events, giving the book a choppy unevenness that emphasizes how silly Emmaline's quest really is": SLJ 8/16 review of the Delacorte book.]-Sarah Flood, Breckinridge County Public Library, Hardinsburg, KY © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* In the midst of WWII England, Emmaline is sent to the countryside to live at Briar Hill Hospital, where all the children Emmaline included suffer from stillwaters (TB). Blackout curtains keep out the light; illness and nuns' habits pervade the hospital; and her closest friend, Anna, is so sick that she cannot venture outside. Emmaline constantly seeks escape, both by going into the drab winter gardens and by seeing winged horses in the mirrors inside the hospital. When she discovers an injured winged horse named Foxfire has escaped the mirror world and taken shelter in the sundial garden, Emmaline's life takes on purpose: she must help protect Foxfire from Volkrig, the black-winged horse that threatens Foxfire while she heals. Narrated by Emmaline, whose health grows steadily weaker as the story progresses, this quietly powerful novel draws in the reader with its magic realism. 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. In her middle-grade debut, Shepherd blurs the line between real and imaginary, leaving room for readers to debate the story's meaning. Classics such as Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden and C. S. Lewis' Narnia books inform this moving, magically tinged slice of historical fiction.--Moore, Melissa Copyright 2016 Booklist
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