Monday's Muse, 22nd edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve.

The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to amazon, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's random word:

The Island of Horses by Ellis Dillon.

The people of remote Inishrone, a few miles off the Connemara coast, know not to go to the Island of Horses. Everyone has heard tales of men who have gone and never returned, and some people can still hear the thunder of ghostly hooves. Yet one day young Pat Conroy and his friend Danny MacDonagh head off anyway, claiming that they're fishing for eels. There they find something far more valuable - a beautiful black colt that soon lands them in a world of trouble. Now the boys must return to the island, despite rough seas, along with Pat's frail grandmother who knows of a hidden valley and a secret story. The Island of Horses is fraught with suspense and peopled with unforgettable individuals.

The White Horse Trick by Kate Thompson.

This complex fantasy, which follows The New Policeman (2007) and The Last of the High Kings (2008), offers readers a taste of genre-blending that is both challenging and successful. Jenny is either 16 (in fairy terms) or quite an elderly woman (in mortal Irish terms). The fantasy world, where time has stopped, is presented as nearly feudal, while Ireland has moved into a future where such contemporary trappings as DVDs are now passé. That is because the “ploddy world”—as the fairies call the one we mortals know as our own—was ruined generations back by ecoviolence of the sort young teens will already recognize as a potential real disaster. Readers with some familiarity with Irish lore will have the most immediate success unwinding the complexities of familial lines and political allegiances in the fairy world. The conclusion surprises, however, as Thompson delivers a delightful twist that turns the tale into a riff on the biblical creation story. Copious drinking and some use of tobacco are in keeping with the characters and their diverse—and diverting—times. --Francisca Goldsmith

I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade by Diane Wilson.

14th-century China, an elderly woman tells her granddaughter about her early life on the Mongol steppes, beginning with the day a horse crushed her tiny foot, crippling the young Oyuna. According to her nomadic clan's religious beliefs, this incident brought bad luck to her and her family. Thereafter, she views any misfortune visited upon her family as her fault, even her mother's accidental death. Her one joy is her new white horse. When the mare is commandeered by Kublai Khan's forces, Oyuna dresses as a boy in order to remain with her beloved companion. When the soldiers discover her secret, they are anxious to get rid of her and quickly send her off alone to complete a mission for an injured arrow rider for the Khan. After an arduous trek, she reaches the Khan's palace where she is instrumental in halting a plague that is killing off the ruler's herd of white horses and meets the man whom she will marry. In the words of her own shamaness grandmother, she has learned to make her own luck. This unique coming-of-age story is steeped in the rituals and superstitions of the period and punctuated with graphic images of the harsh terrain and living conditions on the barren steppes, the treacherous mountains, and the gobi. The character of Oyuna, though a sympathetic one, seems drawn with a kind of detachment that makes it difficult to identify closely with her. Nevertheless, her story is an exciting one that will reward diligent, proficient readers. School Library Journal -- A Peggy Morgan, The Library Network, Southgate, MI

Ariel's Journey by Doug Kane and Christy Wood.

Five very different young women sent to the woods to learn about Icelandic horses, beautiful, fluffy, stocky horses with an uncanny ability to survive harsh climates and dangerous terrain. But this summer camping trip reveals their true power the horses and their young riders must travel centuries into the past to save the village of their ancestors. Uncovering amazing abilities, girls and horses work together to challenge a ruthless enemy, rescue a young princess, and realize their destinies include a prophecy only they can fulfill. Will the girls develop the trust and friendship necessary to battle together? Are the horses going to survive a battle plan sure to end in disaster? Can the young princess be saved before the evil chieftain destroys her? Can true love cross the distance of seven hundred years? Their very lives will depend on the magic only the Ice Horses can provide, and the courage hidden within their hearts.

House of the Star by Caitlin Brennan.

Elen is a princess of the kingdom of Ymbria. Her greatest wish is to become a rider of worldrunners: the magical horses that are the only safe way to travel the roads through the worlds of Faerie. Now Elen has the chance to fulfill her dream at last, but the price is much too high.

To become a worldrider, Elen must journey to the House of the Star on Earth, the Arizona ranch where the worldrunners live and breed. There, she must try to forge a peace with her people’s worst enemy—a traitor from the world of Caledon—and end the war that has been tearing their worlds apart for centuries. If Elen doesn’t succeed, the Master of the House of the Star will close both Ymbria and Caledon off from the worldroads forever. Can the wisdom of a worldrunner named Blanca help Elen in her quest to save her world?

Caitlin Brennan’s first novel for young readers is an enchanting tale of a very special breed of horses, the tribe of horse girls, and faerie magic.

The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff.

Phaedrus, an enslaved gladiator in northern Britain in the first century, earns his freedom by killing his best friend, a fellow gladiator, in a final fight to the death


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

That's so fun - what a great idea and what interesting looking reads!

Elana Johnson said...

Cool idea! And I like that pink book with the keys.

Anonymous said...

I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade was one of my favorites as a teen--reminds me a bit of Mulan but from a Hun perspective.

And The White Horse Trick is in my current to read pile. Funny but they might be the only two books with "horse" in the title I've ever read!

Heather Zundel said...

Sheila - I love doing this. And this one was a direct request, my first! Yay!!!

Elana - I was sad that one wasn't nominated for the Cybils by anyone. I might have to grab that one on my own... ;)

Missprint - Ooooh. Now that intrigues me. It's been bumped up a notch. And seriously? I thought every girl read books with horses in them growing up.

Meg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meg said...

Thanks for using my word! They look like such interesting reads and I have at least five new books to add to my reading list!

Missprint--I'm all "grown up" and still love reading books about horses :)

Another amazing animal story: The Daily Coyote (not young adult, but still a spectacular read

Heather Zundel said...

Meg - I'll have to add that one to my TBR. I love getting recommendations! :D