Meredith Jaffé, Horse Warrior, Harbour Publishing House, May 2019, 260 pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781922134912
Horse Warrior is the first in a series of books aimed at middle-grade to young-adults by Meredith Jaffé. Maia is the eleven-year-old daughter of Lord Avenal. Maia’s father and her advisors want her to fulfil the expectations of the King’s daughter. These are to wear fine clothes and observe Horse Warriors competing in tournaments.
Maia feels that her skills and talents are overlooked. Maia loves to ride horses and has a special understanding of being a Horse Warrior. Becoming a Horse Warrior is restricted to boys and men in the Kingdom of Avenal.
Readers of Maia’s age or above will relate to her frustrations. Maia’s brother, Willem enjoys notoriety as a Horse Warrior and Maia is aware that she can outperform him. When we meet Maia she is resentful towards Willem. The complexity of their sibling relationship is a central theme in the story.
Maia has few female role models or friends to help her. When she meets the mysterious Raven, his sense of protective authority infuriates Maia. Maia must quickly learn who she can trust. When her father and brother are unable to, Maia must protect the kingdom.
There is a supernatural element in the story, that fits well with Avenal’s medieval feel. Animals lovers will also enjoy this book because Maia’s deep friendship with her horse, Ziggy and her little dog Foxie are beautifully expressed.
There are lots of questions remaining at the conclusion of this magical first story in the series of Horse Warrior. You will want to and need to read the next in the series to conclude some of the events.
Reviewed by Angela Brown