Horse Warrior (Meredith Jaffé, Harbour Publishing)
In this medieval fantasy for middle-grade readers, 11-year-old Maia is desperate to compete in the annual Tournament of Avenal, a showcase of riding and shooting skills. But girls are not allowed. Instead, her bad-tempered brother, Willem, gets that privilege. Their father is Lord Avenal, master of the region, and her brother must follow in his footsteps. When a tragedy occurs at the tournament, Maia must make difficult decisions about who to trust and what to fight for—to be a lady or a warrior. She embarks on a perilous journey with the mysterious and mercurial stranger Raven, their ponies and her dog, racing at breakneck speed to the mountains. Horse Warrior is published by Harbour Publishing, where Jaffé is an editor, and she published two books for adults—The Fence and The Making of Christina—before delving into writing for children. This is a hero’s journey for young readers that is adventurous and full of peril, while young horse lovers will enjoy the author’s knowledgeable descriptions of horses. It takes a little while before it gets truly exciting but the reader is soon engaged with the action and mystery. The narrative ends abruptly in the dark within a mountain, so hopefully there will be more books in the series.
Angela Crocombe is the manager of Readings Kids