Reviewed by Carrie Spellman for TeensReadToo.com
Larkyn Hamley lives in the Uplands in the Duchy of Oc. Until recently she's lived a pretty normal life on the family farm with her three brothers. Until she finds Char. Horses are more than rare in the Uplands, and until now Larkyn has never seen a real one. But, here she is, and it's only the beginning. Char dies trying to give birth to her foal. Not just any horse, but a winged horse! Winged horses, by law, belong to the Duke. Their bloodlines are monitored. Winged horses are bred. They don't just show up on farms in the Uplands. Until now.
What Larkyn doesn't know is that winged horses bond for life with one female only. Usually those females are specially chosen, monitored, and trained. All Larkyn knows is that her new friend Tup needs to be fed and cared for, and Tup doesn't really like her brothers. By the time Mistress Phillipa Winter from the Academy arrives, it's too late. Larkyn and Tup are inseparable. There is really no choice to be made. She wasn't chosen, she's not prepared, she's far too young, and she may never fit in, but Larkyn is off to the Academy with Tup, to train for their service to the Duke.
It's quickly apparent that fitting in, while virtually impossible, is the least of Larkyn's problems. And, difficult as the situation is, Larkyn is the least of the Academy's problems. When the Duke dies, and his son takes over, there may be a lot more to worry about, for the entire Duchy.
This book is unbelievably absorbing! At first I found it mildly hard to follow, because it doesn't explain everything outright. Gradually, I realized that all my questions were answered as the story unfolded. By the end I not only appreciated the assumption of intelligent readership, I also realized how much more involved in the story I was, because of the way it was written. Not to mention that it is, plain and simple, a great story. All of the characters are very well formed, very real, and interesting. The Duke's son is incredibly disturbing, as are some of his habits, most of which are only alluded to (and trust me, that's a good thing). But he's kind of pitiful at the same time; you almost feel a little bad for him. Almost.
This is the first in what is planned as a trilogy. Good thing too, otherwise I would have some issues with Ms. Bishop. I hadn't had nearly enough by the end of this book. It doesn't so much end with an "OMG! What happens next?" but more of an "I want to know more. I want to spend more time here." I think I'll end up reading it over and over until the next one comes out!
LOVED THIS BOOK! It had several different twists that I was NOT expecting and I love that in a book when it's a bit unpredictable. The story line and characters are amazing. A wonderful read!
A good enjoyable story if you like horses & fantasy. Not a book for young kids though. There are too many references to adult behaviors & deviances for that. I would recommend it o.k. for high school level. If you're looking for good reading for kids I'd recommend the Redwall series. They're perfectly safe.
Quick read and I liked the characters. Hopefully, she has more out about these girls and their horses.