I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.
Blurb from Goodreads:
I was worried about reading this book because I don’t know much about centaurs and have never read a book with centaurs as lead characters. It was intriguing and entertaining to read. A bit slow to start and some questions were left unresolved. This is the first book in the series so I hope in the future certain questions are answered. That being said, I liked the book in totality.
Malora is a great main character. She cares a lot for her horses and remains true to her nature for most of the book. Malora is driven into the wild when Leatherwings (bat-like creatures) annihilate her village and she finds refuge with wild horses. She is later rescued from a flash flood by the centaurs, specifically Orion (who I thought might be a love interest for Malora as weird as it might seem). She is the first of the people that centaurs have ever seen since the great massacre where the centaurs nearly cause the extinction of humans. The centaurs are fascinated but scared of her until she saves a Twani who happens to be a cat person. Aw, the Twanis in my head look like Puss in Boots and the Twani are refer like that. So cute. They also remind me of house elves from Harry Potter but seem way cuter than house elves.
She is taken to their city and properly educated meaning she learns to read. And this is where I have problems with the setting and time. I have no idea what time period this is. I do know that they have Shakespeare’s work as well as Stephanie Meyer so I see a problem. Not with Meyer but her stuff is pretty recent and humans have stopped writing for quite awhile. The book is set in the distant future but humans are pretty primitive and there is no advanced technology. The medicine consists of herbs and salves, carriages not cars, and handmade items. All that comes into mind is The Planet of the Apes movie. I would feel so much more comfortable if there was date on the book. Not that a date would help the book but it would make the book feel more grounded.
Going along with the Planet of the Apes dystopia feeling, the book would be better if it contain an explanation as to how the centaurs, the twani and a half-goat man came into being. This book is set in the distant future so some evolution or medical achievement gone wrong helped give birth to the new creatures that proceeded to eradicate humans. I like to know what it was since it would bring realism into a fantasy setting.
Most of the characters were likable, there wasn’t much ambivalent about their personality. Orion has a good heart but there might be some hidden darkness within him that he is afraid to reveal. Nathan, another centaur, still keeps in touch with Orion even though they claimed to no longer be friends. There is an interesting back story between them that has yet to be told.
The politics of the book is very interesting. There are Highlander Centaurs and Flatlanders Centaurs. The Highlander are essentially the rich people and people with skills versus the Flatlanders who are simple people and workers. There is a growing dissatisfaction with the Flatlanders with the system that treats them as second class citizens. Nothing serious happens in this book but there is always the next book. Another distinction is the Edicts that Highlanders maintain, basically the Ten Commandments except the Edicts are taken more seriously by the Highlanders than the Flatlanders. The women have to cover their hair in order to not entice the males and all Highlanders are forbidden from eating meat and drinking alcohol. Overall, the Highlanders act like nobles, very conservative, and are squeamish about most things while the Flatlanders are portrayed as more common people. Neither of the centaurs are like the Harry Potter centaurs.
In the end, the book is an interesting read. At times, the book feels jumpy. One moment, the horses are training for the Golden Horse race and the next moment, they are in the stadium. There was no gentle transition or warning. Some characters were introduced and then just completely forgotten. I hope this was for a chance at in-depth character look in the second book. This book is a set up for future books since it gave multiple plot bunnies for the next book. There could be rouge centaurs attacking the city, people attacking the city, the intro of Lume (Malora’s dream boyfriend), an uprising by the Flatlanders and so on. It could go in any direction. There is promise for the second book.