Horse of Wind and Shadows by L.B. Shire

HORSE
Horse of Wind and Shadows by L.B. Shire
Publisher: Lycaon Press
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (154 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Evil lurks in the waters off the Oregon coast. A lone girl, a magnificent horse, zombies… Can hope prevail with each hoof beat in the sand?

All Taryn wanted was to have a horse again.

When she spotted the black steed running through the ocean waves, she knew there must be a way to capture the feral horse. Her best friend, Flyn, said it wasn’t possible. Not one to turn away from a challenge, will she risk friendships and love to make her dream come true?

Flyn has been Taryn’s self-proclaimed protector since they were kids. Thrust into a world of unpredictability, he tries his best to keep the strong-willed girl out of trouble. Taryn stumbles upon a horse and decides she wants to make it her own against his growing concerns. Will he be able to keep Taryn safe, or will she be lost to him forever?

Is there any point in wishing for impractical things when there’s no guarantee you’ll live to see tomorrow? Of course Taryn knows how dangerous it is to grow up in a world full of zombies, but she can’t help but to dream of what it would feel like to ride a horse again.

Taryn is one of the most interesting protagonists I’ve met so far this year. Her strengths and flaws reveal themselves early on in her adventures, and she definitely possesses quite a few of each. Sometimes her unrelenting stubbornness made me wish I could climb into the scene and persuade her to listen to other points of view, but her empathy and curiosity kept me rooting for her until the conclusion.

I did notice some grammatical errors in the text as I was reading. There were also a few instances in which the characters’ syntax was unusual. It was never quite clear to me if the author was writing a new type of dialect that was created by the large number of orphans in the plot whose education has been sparse to non-existent or if these oddly written sentences would have disappeared with another round of editing.

Strong, even pacing drew me back into the story. There is little room for sentimentality or nostalgia in this world because the characters are forced to spend so much of their time gathering supplies and outrunning the dead. This realistic look at what it would take to keep a small community functioning under such dangerous conditions when a large percentage of their members are young children and teenagers piqued my interest almost as much as the dilemmas Taryn and her makeshift family face.

The paranormal elements of this tale captured my attention immediately. It’s fairly rare for a zombie novel to include the types of phenomenon that the author inserts into the text, so I was curious to see how everything would tie together. I would have liked to see more time spent developing this subplot. It’s a unique twist, yet the amount of space it was given wasn’t quite enough to explain all of the questions I had in the beginning.

It took me a while to determine the most appropriate age recommendation. Taryn is a few months shy of 16 when the story begins, but her emotional response to her circumstances and her obsession with the horse make her come across as someone who is a few years younger than her chronological age. There is a genuinely innocent and naive side to this character that is often at odds with her surroundings, and it is because of these traits that this story is suitable for high school students of any age.

I’d recommend Horse of Wind and Shadows to anyone who would like to shift effortlessly between genres. This novel is equal parts young adult and science fiction with just enough horror thrown in to remind the reader that there are always zombies lurking beyond the perimeter.

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