The Secret Horses of Briar Hill Review

Todays review is a magical book full of winged horses!

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Let’s take a look at The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd!


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  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (October 11, 2016)

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?

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Tawney’s Review:  This was a great book between magic and the reality of the world. I have always been fond of horses, pegasus, and unicorns.

Emmaline is our main character. The setting is an old manor converted to a hospital during World War II. Emmaline has tuberculosis and is trying to recover in the countryside with other sick children during the war. It is in the old manner’s mirrors and other reflective surfaces that she sees the winged horses. They live in a mirrored world where they can interact with the objects in the mirror but not in Emmaline’s world.

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 On one particular day while exploring the gardens she finds a white horse with a broken wing. She needs to protect this horse named Foxfire from a Black Horse who might destroy her and the other horses. She must save the horse by finding colors and that may be hard to do during a war torn world.

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But with Emmaline’s “fantasies” come the reality of her surroundings. One character named Brian doesn’t believe  Emmaline and reminds her of what is going on. Sometimes you wonder if this is all but a dream or fantasy. But Emmaline continues to help Foxfire and you root for her all the way.

Sheperd did a wonderful job at capturing Emmaline’s voice. Her voice is child like and her reaction to love, death and the war is genuine. I loved that Emmaline was chasing rainbows to help save her horse Foxfire. This book is perfect for children but great for all ages! I couldn’t put it down. When I go to Dinseyworld I feel like a kid again, always. This book was like that. I flipped every page with giddy glee because who doesn’t like winged horses?

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Should you read this? Yes! A fantastic story with wonderful characters and a little bit of magic.
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About the Author: 

Kristi Hedberg PhotographyThe Short Bio:

New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is the author of several acclaimed young adult series and the middle grade novel The Secret Horses of Briar Hill. She now lives and writes on a 125-year-old farm outside Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, two cats, and an especially scruffy dog.

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