cover image The Finest Choice

The Finest Choice

Jean Rabe. Tor Books, $24.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-0821-4

Telepathically-gifted horses star in this fluidly-moving second installment (after The Finest Creation) to Rabe's breathtaking and horrific YA fantasy trilogy, along with assassin birds, hungry wolves, a monstrous Bishop Therland DeNogaret and a brave, young orphan, Kalantha Montoll. The Bishop, with help from his supernaturally controlled birds, plans to kill the fugitive princess and her older brother, Meven Montoll, the bewitched boy-King of Galmier, so he can rule the entire island continent of Paard-Peran. He plots their murders with a chilling glee that would be comical were it not carried out with merciless viciousness by his fine-feathered servants: Eyeswide, a creepy owl, and the falcon, Nineon, whom Eyeswide trains to serve in his vile quest. But the Bishop doesn't count on the fierce resistance of Kalantha, who's aided by Gallant-Stallion (""Rue""), one of the Finest Creations (equestrian guardian angels who protect ""Fallen"" humans). The fairy tale landscape, riven by the eternal mortal struggle between good and evil, evokes of a darker Narnia. Though the avian killers and body count might alarm younger readers, J.K. Rowling and Garth Nix fans should find this trilogy exciting and memorable.