Klimo, Kate. Daughter of the Centaurs: Centauriad #1. (January 24, 2012). 384 Pages. Random House. $10.99
First, a brief disclaimer. I received an advance copy via NetGalley in August, 2011. It is entirely possible there have been changes. All opinions expressed are my own, and have not been influenced by the publisher. Expected publication is January 24, 2012.
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.
For as long as she can remember, Malora has dreamed of dancing with horses.
“Daughter of the Mountains,” Malora’s mother calls her, for her skin and hair are the dusky red-brown of the rocks, and her upturned eyes– so like her father’s– are the vivid blue-green of the nuggets of malachite that dot the streams running down from the peaks.
When I first picked this book up, I couldn’t put it down. It’s not a fast-paced book, but I really enjoy world-building. Even if it is our world sometime in the future. The distant future. Some bits and pieces of our society survived, and are sprinkled into the mix for a bit of flavor.
Malora is clearly a strong girl. She survives the decimation of her tribe, and finds a new family with her horses. When her encounter with the Centaurs brings her life on the plains to an end, she manages to adapt and survive. While in a lot of ways, what Malora experiences with the centaurs should be pleasant, it isn’t. Her life is strictly controlled, firm rules are laid down, and despite the luxury she finds herself surrounded with, she is more of a pet than a person to the centaurs.
There is major tension between the classes, and despite what’s going on with Malora, that seems to be the real story. The Highlanders and Flatlanders– two distinct groups of centaurs within this society– are kept apart. While the Highlanders are privileged, the Flatlanders struggle, and resent the Highlanders for it. Relations between the groups are strained at best, and it only gets worse as the story goes on.
I’m a little on the fence about this one; I enjoyed it, but it didn’t really amaze me. It felt like there were a lot of bits and pieces to the plot, and not all of them resolved or blended well. Still, I did like reading it, and I’m more than a little interested in where the story’s going. It earns a 3.5 out of 5; good without being stunning.