Title: The Rose Legacy
Author: Jessica Day George
Series: Rose Legacy: Book 1
Page Count: 288 pages
Genre: MG Fantasy
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher’s Summary: When orphaned Anthea Cross-Thornley receives a letter from a long-lost uncle, she wonders if she will finally find a true home. But she is shocked to learn that her uncle secretly breeds horses–animals that have been forbidden in her kingdom for centuries. More alarming is Anthea’s strange ability to sense the horses’ thoughts and feelings, an ancient gift called The Way. Confused and terrified, Anthea is desperate to leave, but when her family and kingdom are put at risk, can she embrace The Way and the exciting future it might bring her?
My Thoughts: This is through-and-through a horse lover’s novel. I was interested to learn that it was Jessica Day George’s first novel (or one of her first?), but never saw publication until it was revised later in her career. I enjoyed her Isbjorn/Singing, Springing Lark retelling in Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow when I read it several years back; I like her gentle storytelling style. In The Rose Legacy, we meet young Anthea, who dreams of becoming a Rose Maiden to the queen. Instead, she gets sent to a land of exile where her uncle illegally breeds horses. Horses are thought in their kingdom to be plague-bringers and spreaders of disease, so Anthea must get over her prejudice against them to realize her deep, telepathic connection with one of her uncle’s horses, Florian. Their relationship reminded me of the Princess and her horse, Falada, in The Goose Girl, but thankfully without the tragedy.
I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this story as much if I hadn’t recently adopted (and subsequently fell in love with, lol) my Golden Retriever. It’s definitely for animal lovers and the story’s heart is the bond between human and animal. The politics of the fictional nation didn’t grip me so much, but the twist at the end left me curious. For young fans of horses and fairy tales, this book belongs in your stable!