A Whisper of Horses by Zillah Bethell
|A Whisper of Horses by Zillah Bethell|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: In a dystopian future, a young girl and a smuggler boy go in search of legendary creatures called horses, in this exciting and beautifully-written tale.|
|Buy? yes||Borrow? yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: August 2015|
|Publisher: Piccadilly Press|
A Whisper of Horses is set in a dystopian future, where most living things have been long since eradicated by 'the Gases.' The few remaining survivors try to eke out a living in the ruined city of Lahn Dan, split into three distinct class groups: Lead (Pb), Copper (Cu) and Gold (Au). Serendipity, a young Pb girl has always been fascinated by the statues and artworks in the city, which depict riders on majestic horses. Of course, she has never seen a real horse; no-one has. When Serendipity finds a map that hints that there may still be horses living in 'Grey Britan', she makes the brave decision to try and escape the walled city to go in search of her dream.
The story tells of Serendipity's journey as she follows the map and meets many characters along the way. She is joined by a young smuggler boy called Tab and his flea-ridden dog, Mouse. Although she finds Tab annoying at first, he soon becomes like a little brother to her and the two form an inseparable bond. They meet many friendly people on their travels, but are also on the run from the authorities who are in constant pursuit.
This book would be perfect for the school curriculum, as it covers many thought-provoking topics for discussion, such as the class system, abuse of power, over-reliance on technology and sharing personal information with strangers. Although it is set in the future, life is more simple and the many of the people have gone back to traditional methods of farming and fishing in a world where only the very wealthy can afford technology. Despite this, it is the poorest members of society that seem the happiest, whilst the wealthy Au class sit in their crystal towers, ensconced in their own artificial cocoon. The further that Serendipity and Tab get away from the city, the greener the grass and cleaner the air.
Serendipity is a likeable heroine and has her own distinct way of speaking. The names of the London landmarks have long been forgotten, so she refers to places like the dried up river 'Tems', 'Two Swords', 'White Hall' and 'Falgar's Square.' She is a brave and determined soul who is willing to do whatever it takes to fulfil her dream of seeing the horses. She is also kind, clever and caring. Tab, her young friend, is cheeky, mischievous and adorable. He loves his scrappy, mangy dog, even if nobody else does. Their friendship is the heart of the story.
A Whisper of Horses is a beautiful story and I liked the fact that the author didn't make the dystopian world too scary for younger readers. However, I would warn parents of very young or more sensitive children that there is a scene where an animal gets injured and is bleeding heavily, which may upset some children. Many thanks to the publishers for my review copy.
After the Flood by L S Matthews is another brilliant book for younger readers with similar themes, wonderful characters and of course, horses.
You can read more book reviews or buy A Whisper of Horses by Zillah Bethell at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy A Whisper of Horses by Zillah Bethell at Amazon.com.
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