Twelve-year-old Malora is one of a small tribe of people. In the far future, humans are nearly extinct. Yet they eke a meager living from the brutal plains where they live. Much of their heritage becomes forgotten or lost in the struggle to survive.
Though they live a rough life without technology, books or many of the modern comforts we take for granted, life is good, until a flock of viscous birds attacks the men returning from a hunting trip.
Young Malora witnesses the atrocity, which plunges her community into chaos. Things go from bad to worse when the predators return and attack the village again and again.
Malora’s mother sends her out alone into the plains during one such attack, after requiring her promise never to return. Malora is on her own except for her father’s favorite horse, Sky. She does her best to keep herself and the horse safe alone in the wild.
Malora can’t keep her promise and, in time is drawn back to the village. What she finds plunges her into despair. While she’s dealing with this emotional blow, she is attacked and captured by Centaurs.
The Centaurs are the civilized beings in this future, at least on the surface. Malora goes from captive to a friend of sorts on the journey back to the centaurs’ city.
Ms. Ross does a remarkable job of world building with this novel. Even though the history of how the humans became almost extinct, and the centaurs became the dominant species is far-fetched, I found the story line believable. The story drew me in and I found myself alternating between cheering for Malora and wondering why she didn’t run away.
The inconsistency of the prose did detract from the story. The narration felt as if there was more than one author. Parts of the story were confusing, and in several instances, I found myself going back several pages to clarify the action.
The inconsistency was minor until the last few chapters where it grew pronounced enough I almost put the book down. I found the conclusion to the story rushed. The final pages wrap up the book quickly, in the process creating gaping holes in logic. Since the book seems to be the initial offering in a series, perhaps the questions left unanswered here will be address in future books.
Note: I received an ARC copy of this book through NetGalley.