The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd
Every once in awhile, you discover a read that leaves an indelible mark upon you, The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is one of those enchanting reads.
There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.
One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own.
Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?
The Secret Horses of Briar Hill
by Megan Shepherd
On Sale Date: October 11, 2016
Juvenile Fiction, Historical, Magical Realism
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 240 pages
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Filled with magic, hope, and unexpected friendships during a time of darkness, Megan Shepherd has created a timeless story of beauty that should feel right at home on bookshelves next to such books as Anne of Green Gables, Narnia, and The Secret Garden.
Emmaline is a ward of Briar Hill during WWII, a former palace turned into a children's hospital where all the children— including Emmaline—suffer from stillwaters (TB), who discovers a great secret.
Reflected in the mirrors of Briar Hill are magical creatures - great, winged horses.
Though her world is bleak and gray, with illness and war, Emmaline likes to escape by exploring the hospital grounds of Briar Hill and drawing colorful pictures of the winged-horses she sees in its mirrors.
One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of an abandoned garden, she discovers something incredible - an injured winged horse named Foxfire.
Wounded, it has escaped the mirror world and taken shelter in the sundial garden. Along with Foxfire, Emmaline discovers a letter from the Horse Lord asking Emmaline to keep Foxfire from Volkrig, a sinister black-winged horse that threatens her.
The Secret Horses Of Briar Hill is a slim book (one I finished it in one sitting) recommended to young readers - one I would have loved to devour at that age. It's filled with magic, winged horsed and magical gardens but it is so much more than that.
It has a timeless feel that really crosses all age boundaries.
What makes The Secret Horses Of Briar Hill standout is how the essence of the story easily captures the wartime atmosphere of Britain while maintaining its magical quality. As we see Emmaline herself sicken with the stillwaters, we cannot help but be astounded by her bravery and determination.
Megan Shepherd beautifully weaves a story of friendship and loss. You will hold your heart in your hands. Mature readers will undoubtably see the parallels between the dangers Foxfire faces with that of the war, while readers of any age can admire the lonely young girl who is daring enough to find beauty even in the darkest of times.
Highly recommended to both young readers and adults.