Read an ARC from NetGalley
Content warning: misgendering, intersex-phobia, kidnapping
We’ve had installments in the Wayward Children series for fans of Candyland, Frankenstein, and riddles. Finally, there is an entry for Horse Girls.
Regan struggles to understand friendship at that pivotal intersection of puberty and childhood. After she reveals to her “best friend” that she is intersex, Regan runs away and joins a commune of literal centaurs. There is a queen in the Hooflands, and she wants the human. But Regan will stop at nothing to maintain her agency and autonomy, despite whatever destiny wants her to believe.
Being a ten-year-old is rough. What I really appreciated about this work is the way it handled the pivotal conflict that drove Regan towards the door to the Hooflands. Laurel’s introduction establishes her as a mean girl who decides the world that revolves around her. So when she freaks out as Regan comes out to her, it’s perfectly telegraphed. Laurel was always an asshole, so of course, she was going to be rude as fuck about that too (this is a swearing review, apologies).
But then Regan goes to the Hooflands and every equine-human hybrid seems to be accepting of her. The roles they have are varied, and it makes sense that Regan is drawn to them. She also happens to love horses and the impossible. Even when some of the other creatures come after her to bring her to the queen, there is still this focus that everyone has a role, everyone has a voice, and no one person should set the rules for everyone. It’s beautifully done, especially with the looming, startling note this novella starts off with.
A novella in which our portal child gets everything she wanted and more.