The Secret Horses of Briar Hill | Review
This was one of the books I have been most anticipating all year. The cover is absolutely gorgeous, lots of my favorite authors were singing it’s praises, and it had horses in it. That’s totally the trifecta, right?
The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is a middle grade novel that is set during World War II at a children’s hospital. Emmaline knows a secret about Briar Hill that no one else does – there are winged horses in the mirrors at Briar Hill. None of the other children or staff at the hospital can see them. Only her.
The story beings illustrating how dull, colorless, adventuress and downright scary Emmaline’s life can be. Her roommate in the hospital is very sick and can’t leave her bed. Emmaline isn’t allowed to go out into the garden because of the foxes. And overall, Emmaline feels lonely and scared, with the threats of bombers and invading forces.
But one day Emmaline discovers something beyond just the winged horses in the mirrors. There is a winged horse in the garden, along with a note asking whoever finds the horse (named Foxfire) to look after her. This note, and the horse, starts Emmaline on an adventure of daring, love and bravery in the face of grave danger.
You learn more and more about Emmaline and her backstory and her illness as the book unfolds. Bits and pieces of her life and revealed and you start to piece together Emmaline’s life. Because of the setting of this book (World War II), there is some death and tragedy and sadness. I thought the book was well paced and plot, except perhaps for the very end, which seems to happen very quickly. The imagery and world building of the winged horse world is glorious and the perfect mirror (pun intended) for the children’s hospital.
If you’re a fan of stories like The Secret Garden, then this is a must read.
My favorite line: “But there must be more out there. There must be brighter things.”
My favorite visual: All the colors.
Rating: 4 stars
Have you read The Secret Horses of Briar Hill? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
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