Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Review: The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd

I can't begin to tell you how happy it makes me to have been able to read and review this book so early, when it isn't even out until October. It means the very most to me. Thank you so, so much to Anna for sending me this print ARC for review. <3 Simply the most gorgeous. This cover is truly something special. I adore it.

I'm unsure about how to review this stunning book, though. Because I didn't love it. But I liked it so so much. The writing is gorgeous. The characters are so interesting to read about. The plot was a bit boring, but the background was simply amazing. The war. The children being sick. It was so good to read about.

I'm giving this book a three star. But it is a very positive three star rating. Because I really did like it a lot. And it is so gorgeous looking. I cannot wait to buy a hardcover of it when it comes out in October. There is a few pieces of stunning artwork inside this book, but there will be a few more in the final copy. And I can't wait to see them all, finished. They will be stunning, I'm sure of it. While I didn't love this one, I do think so many others will love it a lot. Especially children. Though it was a bit heartbreaking too, and it almost made me cry. Which is always a plus. Some things were a bit silly, but I still found this book to be pretty beautiful. I don't really like horses, so I didn't feel that much for the horses in this story. But I loved how much Emmaline cared.

This book is told from the point of view of Emmaline. I'm not sure how old she is, which bothered me a little bit. I wanted to know her age. But I didn't mind too much. She was young. She was adorable. I liked reading about her a lot. I hated that she was sick. My heart broke for her. I loved her relationship with another girl in this hospital for children, Anna. She was older, and she was so sick. It broke my heart. I loved reading about it, though. Felt like it was written well. I wish Anna had been loved by someone.

The story takes place in a hospital for children, run by a few nuns. Which I liked, as they seemed like kind women. But this book also takes place during the war. And it is so sad at times. The children don't have much at all. Which is just so depressing. But also interesting to read about. I love reading books about the war. Though this doesn't focus much on it at all. More about the children. All of whom are sick, and many might end up dead. It was pretty sad. Yet interesting to read about. I liked reading about it.

One thing that bothered me a lot was how Emmaline was with the other children, besides Anna. They didn't like her. They called her a monster. And my god. It broke my heart. Because she didn't do anything about it. Nothing at all. Not even when a mean boy ruined her pencils. She told no one. I just. I don't get why. I would have done something about it, because oh, it was so sad and mean of him. Ugh. But this boy. He was mean so often. Yet near the end I think I ended up liking him. Wanted to read more of him.

I should probably mention that this book is about horses. Winged horses. That only Emmaline can see, through the mirrors. Which was pretty sweet. But then she finds a horse in her own world, and she is hurt. Emmaline has to help her. And while I found it to be interesting, I didn't love this part of the book. It didn't mean much to me, because I wasn't able to care. Why did she want to help the horse? I didn't see a connection between them. But it was still pretty cute. Maybe. The way she helped was a bit weird.

My favorite part of the book was near the end, when Emmaline was pretty sick. We got to know about her family, the true story. And oh my gosh. It was heartbreaking. And it was the part that I enjoyed reading about the most. It was so real and honest and brutal. Wish there had been a bit more focus on it, but I'm happy with that little bit. I think this book could have a sequel. As I feel like a lot more could happen. And yeah. I would love to read another book from this story. It would be wonderful. I want it.

There is a bunch of characters in this book. I liked most of them. Especially Thomas with his one arm. He seemed so kind. Yet the children feared him and that bothered me. I felt like he was lonely a lot. I would have loved to learn his story. And oh, I shipped him and Anna. Yes, I know, there wasn't anything about them anywhere. But I would have loved it. The children were okay to read about, but I think I only truly liked Emmaline and Anna. The others were a bit mean towards Emmaline, and I couldn't stand it.

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill was such a stunning middle grade book. The writing is gorgeous and the time period was amazing to read about. The sick children broke my heart. I'm so glad I got to read and review this book early. I'm just a bit sad that I didn't love it, but I didn't not like it either. It was good. And I know that others will end up loving it. Just. Huge, huge thank you to Anna at Random House Children's Books. <3 It means the most to me that you could ship this print ARC to me. I'll treasure it.


  1. I've never heard of this before! Thanks for bringing to my attention, Carina! Even tho it's only a three star, and the plot was slow, this does sound really lovely and heartbreaking. I'm glad you still really enjoyed it despite a few issues. Beautiful review!

  2. It looks gorgeous, but I'm sorry you didn't fully love it. Boo. I'm sure that won't stop you from buying multiple versions of it! lol.

  3. I had not heard about this book before but I'm in love with the lovely cover!
    Glad to hear that even if you didn't fully love the book, you really liked it!


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