Out of the Valley of Horses

Out of the Valley of Horses
Publisher Name
Pajama Press
Age Range
Release Date
April 30, 2024
The valley of horses has been a safe haven for Honey and her family for seven peaceful years, but this seemingly perfect valley has also become their prison. Trapped by a mysterious magic, and fearing for her father’s life, Honey is determined to find a way out of the valley of horses.
The valley of horses is the only true place Honey remembers since her family stumbled upon it in their converted ice cream truck while escaping from the rest of the world, and the illnesses that was spreading there. Honey’s parents, her brother Rumi, and her NanNan become self-sufficient, living off the land and sharing the valley with mystical horses who seem to have a wisdom of their own. But there is a magic in the valley that prevents Honey and her family from ever leaving. When Honey suspects her father has become ill, Honey knows she must find a way to escape the valley to find help from a world she only knows about through stories.

Wendy Orr, author of the award-winning Nim’s Island and Dragonfly Song, creates a magical land filled with awe and mystery. Showcasing the endurance of family, and the beauty of restoration and self-sufficiency, Orr crafts a heartfelt adventure and enchanting world to fall into.

Editor review

1 review
Wild horses in a magical setting.
Overall rating
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After the death of her grandfather, Honey's grandmother is distraught, and wants to take off in their ice cream truck on a big adventure. Because things are not good in the world, the rest of the family packs up and goes along for the adventure. The mother is an editor, so brings a manuscript along with her, and the father is a mechanic. The trip goes well until the group goes over a bridge into a land of magical horses and find themselves unable to get back. They are not too alarmed, since Nanna's grandfather had also purportedly spend seven years in this land, and they settle down to grow food and make an idyllic life for themselves. They grow food, harvest mangoes and macadamia nuts, and have a few comforts like cell phone flashlights, thanks to the solar panels on the ice cream truck. They haven't been able to get any texts, most likely because of the mountains. The best thing for Honey and her younger brother Rumi are the wild horses. They've named them, and have a special relationship with Moongold, whom Honey rides bareback. The family believes that perhaps everyone in the world is gone except for them. Sometimes this is problematic; when Honey's sleeping bag rips when being washed and they have used up the last of the thread, she starts to see that this life might not be able to continue forever. When the father becomes ill and they suspect apendicitis, Honey decides that she will ride Moongold and try to find the bridge to cross to get help. She manages to do this, but the first people that she meets want to capture Moongold and sell him, and the two barely escape with three other horses the outlaws have captured. Honey and the horses end up meeting Abbie and her father, who own the stolen horses, and are able to use the grandmother's cell phone that Honey has taken to contact Honey's aunt. She's an ambulance driver located very close, and comes to Abbie's farm to meet Honey. She takes off with Moongold, leading the rescue team, and manages to cause the bridge to appear when she flies over the river with Moongold. Her father gets the medical attention he needs, and the family realizes that things are okay in the world, and plan their next steps.

Good Points
This is a pandemic tale, and it's fairly clear that the family's experiences of traveling away from humanity were motivated by trying to escape the COVID virus. The author has a note about her own experiences. There are so many variations of what people did during that time. Why not have a fantasy story about escaping to a magical valley where mangoes grow wild?

There are not a lot of middle grade books that merge horses with fantasy elements. Lasky's Horses of the Dawn and George's The Rose Legacy series, as well as DasGupta's The Chaos Monster (Secrets of the Sky) do. This is a great portal fantasy for readers who want to travel into a magical world where the biggest concern is horses, and not the fact that everyone has worn out their shoes!
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