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Thursday, August 31, 2023

Honey And The Valley Of Horses by Wendy Orr. Melbourne: Allen And Unwin, 2023

 Honey and her family pack up their converted ice cream van with food and clothes, and head off for an adventure during a bad time(I suspect it’s during the pandemic, though COVID isn’t mentioned). They find themselves in a valley occupied by a herd of sentient magical horses. They know an ancestor was there and returned after seven years, but can’t find a way out; the trail to and from the river and a bridge which they crossed to get in have both vanished. 

Now seven years have passed. The family have managed well, and the two children, Honey and her little brother Rumi, have grown. The family have been adopted by individual horses in the herd. But Papa is very sick and needs help from outside the valley…

This is a gentle story about family - and the family includes the horses, which protect Honey, her parents and grandmother and her little brother. The humans ride only when the horses invite them. The family has learned not only to grow food from seeds of the fruit and vegetables they brought with them and renew clothes, they have created their own culture of story telling around the fire at night. The ice cream van has become their home.  

The magical paradise in which they live is Australian, with native Australian animals and plants, except for the horses, which are descended from a horse brought by the ancestor and a mysterious mare who was there when they arrived. 

The story was inspired by her parents, who loved camping and preparing for long journeys and converted a boat into a home in their eighties, and by wondering how children raised in the pandemic would cope with going back into the world. That was inspired by her own family’s experiences during the pandemic.

It’s a good read for middle school children like the horse-loving girl I was at that age, and definitely recommended! 

Thank you to Allen And Unwin for this copy.

Available on Australian web sites, including ebooks. The book should be available outside of Australia soon, so keep an eye out! While you wait, check out Wendy Orr’s other books, which are right there on Amazon. The award winning Ancient Greek trilogy is very special.