A Whisper of Horses

Zillah Bethell. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-09394-3
In this densely plotted dystopian novel, Welsh author Bethell’s debut, newly orphaned 12-year-old Serendipity sets out in search of supposedly extinct horses. Bethell divides her story into three distinct sections, the first of which reveals the dreary, sparsely populated Lahn Dan (once London), now characterized by a strict class system (Serendipity, a storyteller’s apprentice, belongs to the Pb worker class) and authoritarian regulations. An encounter with Miss Caritas, a high-caste Au, unearths a map in Serendipity’s locket that purports the existence of horses. The lure of these creatures and an injunction against orphans thrust Serendipity out of the claustrophobic city with an orphan boy, Tab, and his dog; tension mounts as sinister police forces pursue them. The tweaked locations (Bucknam Place, Gray Britain) and other words (“jeans” instead of “genes”) strongly establish this world but can be distracting. And while the cast is varied and engaging, there are also some familiar types, such as an all-knowing wizard operating a mechanical façade in the book’s final section. Even so, Bethell’s inventive heroine propels an action-packed adventure. Ages 9–12. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/24/2017
Release date: 04/01/2017
Ebook - 978-1-250-09395-0
Audio Product - 352 pages - 978-1-250-09396-7
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