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Centauriad #1

Daughter of the Centaurs

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Malora knows what she was born to be: a horse wrangler and a hunter, just like her father. But when her people are massacred by batlike monsters called Leatherwings, Malora will need her horse skills just to survive. The last living human, Malora roams the wilderness at the head of a band of magnificent horses, relying only on her own wits, strength, and courage. When she is captured by a group of centaurs and taken to their city, Malora must decide whether the comforts of her new home and family are worth the parts of herself she must sacrifice to keep them.

362 pages, Hardcover

First published January 24, 2012

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About the author

Kate Klimo

69 books128 followers
Kate Klimo spent her early years amidst the cornfields of Iowa where the winters were prodigious. Often, when the snows flash-thawed in the spring, she would find her backyard filled with the flapping, resurrected bodies of fish her ice-fishing father had stored in the snowdrifts. Thus sprang into her young head the unshakable notion that, all winter long, fish escaped from the rivers and magically swum through the snow banks of Mount Vernon, Iowa.

When she moved to the little town of Sea Cliff, on Long Island Sound, she met her best friend Justine in the Stenson Memorial Library at the main desk, where they often checked out the same fantasy writers. Together, they read C.S. Lewis, E. Nesbit, Edward Eager, and George MacDonald and embarked on a tireless search for portals to magical worlds, extending from abandoned Victorian mansions to the decrepit local five-and-dime to the sandy cliffs sweeping down to the Sound.

With her propensity for magical thinking and long-standing love of fantasy, does it come as any surprise that Kate grew up to be in the book business? But after over 25 years of heading up Random House Children’s Books, with the publication of The Dragon in the Sock Drawer in March 2008, Kate began to ease over to the author’s side of the desk.

Now a full-time author, in addition to numerous one-off titles, she has written the middle-grade series The Dragon Keepers series and the Dog Diaries as well the Centauriad for young adults. Under the pen name Bonnie Worth, she has penned over a dozen books in the best-selling Cat in the Hat Learning Library. She lives in New Paltz, New York with her husband and two horses.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 142 reviews
Profile Image for Jillian -always aspiring-.
1,816 reviews197 followers
August 6, 2011
Imagine a world where humans are near extinction, mutant bat creatures stalk the skies like birds of prey, and centaurs rule as nobility within their own mountain fortress. That sounds like such a great fictional world, doesn't it? Wouldn't you want to read about such a strange yet dangerous place?

Well, I definitely did -- but once I started reading Daughter of the Centaurs my enthusiasm quickly dimmed to lukewarm feelings and then, finally, to a sense of disillusionment and confusion.

The author, Kate Klimo, tried to capture the charm and adventure that are to be found in novels by fantasy authors such as Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones, Gail Carson Levine, and Shannon Hale -- but even with an original idea the novel fell flat in many areas.

One of the hard sells of the novel is that this book is not meant to be straight fantasy...but rather dystopian in the sense that this world ruled by centaurs and other creatures is meant to take place really, really far into the future (yes, OUR world's future).  While that's an interesting idea in and of itself, my curious mind wants to know how.  Klimo never explains the origins of her world and how these sentient creatures came to be.  Are they the result of evolution? Genetic abnormalities? Magic gone wild? The questions always loomed in the back of my mind as I was reading, yet never once did I get an answer, satisfactory or not. 

Another sticking point to me was that the centaurs...well, to put it bluntly, they were lame.  Though I could understand more civilized centaurs (as opposed to my more traditional view of tribal, warrior-like creatures), I still expected them to be majestic in some ways. Instead, they are shallow and irksome beings who are served by cat-like servants called Twani (who actually reminded me of the house-elves from Harry Potter), and there is little depth to be found in the centaur characters (many of whom are nobles). Then, when we actually do meet a more traditional (and, might I add, much more likable) centaur, the novel is almost three-fourths done! Injustice, I say!

The society of the centaurs was...frivolous at best and cartoonish at worst. Though I was expecting some intrigues possibly a la Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief series, there was none of that to be found here.  Instead, we are treated to some vague signs of tension between the Highlanders (the noble centaurs) and the Flatlanders (the common centaurs), but it never builds to anything especially exciting or noteworthy.

The one semi-good point of the novel was the heroine, Malora, who reminded me of a mixture of Katniss from Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games and Daine from Tamora Pierce's The Immortals quartet -- but some of the likenesses to those heroines were often only skin-deep, making Malora seem more a caricature of the "wilderness girl" and less of a real character.

The writing itself had its good and bad moments.  Pacing and exposition were not always consistent; those flaws make the story a bit of a rocky reading experience instead of a smooth one.  Sometimes the novel also had an identity crisis in that it never quite seemed certain whether it was meant to be aimed towards middle-grade readers or young adults, and that could prove to be a problem for this novel to reach the audience that may be most receptive to it.

Though having the benefits of a fresh idea and an intriguing set-up, Daughter of the Centaurs honestly was a disappointment to me, but other readers may feel differently and find charm where I found annoyance.  If you're interested, then by all means give it a try.  Perhaps it will be a fresh yet nostalgic kind of fantasy story for your reading pleasure.

Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley.
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews1,984 followers
January 27, 2012
Original review posted on The Book Smugglers

On The Cover:

We must start this post by saying that we strongly believe the cover of Daughter of the Centaurs to be the latest case of Whitewashing.

The story is set in Africa. The protagonist of the book is described as being “dark-skinned” whose “skin and hair are the dusky red-brown”. At various points in the story, attention is called to the earthen red-brown tones of her skin (especially as Malora tries on pretty Centaur dresses).

The person on this cover – presumably the protagonist – appears as a fair-skinned Caucasian.

To whitewash is to use a white representation for a character that is not white and it is a sickening form of discrimination that must end.

Ana’s Take:

When I first heard about Daughter of the Centaurs I got super excited about it. I am going through this Mythology phase and was really looking forward to reading it. Then, I started reading news about the book and realised it was not to be the Fantasy I was hoping for. Instead, the story is supposedly a Post-Apocalyptic/Science Fiction tale set at some point in the future which made me even more curious about it. Unfortunately, I ended up not finishing the book, making to the halfway mark and then putting it aside.

It wasn’t because of the protagonist – I actually really loved Malora, she was definitely an awesome example of female character in YA: cool, tough, and full of agency. It wasn’t the story – the premise was full of potential: the last human on earth meets with an advanced society of Centaurs (although the awesome premise was so poorly executed). It wasn’t the narrative as its present tense-third person narration did not bother me at all. Although I felt that the Post-Apocalyptic/Science Fiction elements were unnecessary and not really integrated in the novel, I will refrain from commenting on those because I didn’t read till the end so I don’t know how it develops. For the same reason, I will also refrain from commenting on how queasy I felt about the HAPPY SLAVES aka, the race of beings that live in servitude to the Centaurs and are so grateful for it (but I am sure Thea will be able to tell us more).

No. Here are the main two reasons I stopped reading the book:

First of all, the story is supremely boring. For a book about THE LAST HUMAN ON EARTH, who encounters a tribe of EXTREMELY ADVANCED CENTAURS and taking into consideration how each side never even knew the other existed, the novel is remarkably devoid of tension or conflict. But what makes it all the more boring is the sheer amount of exposition. From the moment Malora meets the Centaurs, the story is developed in conversation format in which characters basically info-dump everything about the Centaur society. It is really, really clumsy. The author created this really fleshed out, in-depth world for the centaurs and then proceeds to TELL us about it, instead of SHOWING us. And despite all the in-depth elements, unfortunately there is nothing really NEW about this society. I feel this could have been any society in any given period of time.

And then, of course, there were the horses.

Folks, I couldn’t sleep because of the horses. I found myself Googling about horse breeding at 1 AM. I was driven to distraction by the horses. Please bear in mind the following facts:

1) Horse pregnancy usually lasts 11 months;
2) Horses rarely have twins;
3) A mare usually starts breeding on its second year of life.

Now consider this: at the beginning of the novel, Malora leaves her settlement to live all alone in the prairie with only her beloved stallion Sky for company until they find a mare named Shadow to join them. This is what happens next:

It is not long before Shadow’s belly bulges. In the spring, she drops twins. And so the herd begins to expand. True to her vow to leave no horse nameless, Malora names each one as it slips of its damn and into the world. First come Coal and Lightning. Then Silky and Raven and Blacky and Posy. These horses, in various combinations over time, produce Charcoal, Ember, Smoke, Fancy, Streak, and Stormy.

By the third spring – Malora’s fifteenth year – there are fifteen horses in Malora’s cave, including Sky and Shadow.

Bearing in mind the horse breeding facts aforementioned, the above is simply NOT.POSSIBLE.

UNLESS these are either magical or genetically modified horses which, considering the Fantasy/Scifi context of this novel, might be the explanation. But there was nothing even remotely indicative that these are not regular horses except for, you know, the fact that they reproduce like rabbits.

Still, let’s say I accept the premise that these could be a magical and/or Science Fictional horses. Here is the thing: the fact that I was so concerned about the mechanics of horse breeding is pretty much an indication of how bored I was about the actual story and THAT should tell you everything there is to know about my reading experience.

Alas, it’s my first DNF of the year.

Thea’s Take:

Unlike Ana, I did manage to slog my way through this novel to the end (although I should disclose that I engaged in liberal skimming towards the last 80 or so pages of the book). Like Ana, however, I found myself supremely underwhelmed and increasingly frustrated with this novel.

First, the good: I think the premise of the novel is brilliant. I started the book expecting a Fantasy novel (unlike Ana’s experience, as she had read some other peoples’ interpretations and was expecting Apocalyptic SF), and was surprised, not necessarily in a bad way, by the integration of Science Fiction-ish elements. We learn that Malora’s world is, in fact, our own. We learn that Centaurs maybe-possibly were genetically engineered by humans, as presumably are the many other fantasy-ish creatures in the mix. Thus, Daughter of the Centaurs is actually an SF novel that plays on the destroyed/post-apocalyptic hi-tech society meets low-tech devolvement trope, with the integration of elements that seem very much like magic (for example, Orion the Centaur makes perfumes that unlock impossible past and future visions for Malora – visions of men in white lab coats performing tests on animals, of Orion as a young Centaur, and so on). There are talking cat-creatures called Twani, Centaurs, and something like a Satyr. When fantasy and SF intersect, it can be a very cool thing (see Catherine Fisher or Pedar O’Guilin or Jaine Fenn).

Unfortunately, in Daughter of the Centaurs this is not the case.

Unlike Ana, I hated the narrative style of the book. Third person present tense annoys the bejeezus outta me – almost as much as first person present tense – and in this type of fantasy-cum-sci-fi novel, it had a strangely offputting, distancing effect on the plot and characters. Additionally, the writing was rife with Exclamation! Points! (including a chapter title that ends in an exclamation point!) which is also incredibly irritating. These are personal stylistic preferences, though, so understandably other experiences may vary.

Much more frustrating than writing style, however, was the utter lack of a central conflict. There is nothing propelling this story forward. The entire book is, as Ana says, a giant exposition-laden info-dump, full of conversations that, while mildly interesting, amount to nothing of significance. Hence, the strong urge to write the book off as a DNF (I don’t blame Ana in the slightest, as this was an exceptionally boring story).

There’s also the incredible offensiveness of the system of Centaurs and their Twani, a race of happy, work-themselves-literally-to-death slaves that wait on the Centaurs because it is their immense honor to do so and they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves without the oh-so-honorable task of helping a Centaur use the bathroom and groom themselves. It’s possible that I missed the part of the book where the Twani are given a voice and are portrayed as more than subservient happy slaves, given as I was so mind-numbingly bored by the last quarter of the book, but I highly doubt it. If there was a metaphor or deeper meaning to these class divisions, Ms. Klimo does not do a good job of communicating that message.

This, combined with the offensively whitewashed cover (which, to be fair, is not the author’s fault nor does it have anything to do with the book itself), sucked out any potential enjoyment I had of the novel.
Profile Image for Cecelia.
397 reviews211 followers
March 6, 2012
I’m just going to put this out there: Centaurs are super cool. And yes, you can judge me for my nerdiness. Greek mythology, Narnia, and Harry Potter – none of you did anything to cure me of this! And then came Kate Klimo’s Daughter of the Centaurs.

The first chapters of Kate Klimo’s book seem to promise something excellent. Deadly Leatherwings threaten Malora’s small settlement, and the scene is set with impossible choices and an interesting world. Then, everything goes south. Warning: if you liked Daughter of the Centaurs, read no further.

Oh, how many things went horribly wrong? Let me count them:

1) Third person present tense. This is the goofiest narrative voice ever. It almost spoiled the first bit of the book for me (the only decent bit, as it turned out). It is awkward. It deadens any connection between character and the reader. It. Is. Terrible. Experiment: read some of the text aloud and tell me it doesn’t sound stilted. See?

2) Twani. One of the interesting things about Daughter of the Centaurs is that it’s not all centaurs all the time. There are humans, Leatherwings, horses, other unique beings, and the Twani. Twani are described as cat-like creatures whose life goal is to serve the centaurs. In fact, they work themselves so hard that they sometimes die. In servitude. No explanation. I'll move on before I get upset.

3) Total loss of tension. As mentioned above, Daughter of the Centaurs opened well. I could overlook the narrative voice and other small annoyances as long as the plot moved along at a strong clip and Malora was going places and doing things that furthered her journey. Unfortunately, almost as soon as Malora and the centaurs made contact, the book slowed down. It eventually stalled out in info dump territory. Class tensions weren’t tense. Family disagreements weren’t true obstacles. Shady characters never developed into sinister villains (or anything else, for that matter). The text meandered, told, and pontificated, but the thrill that drew this reader in? Disappeared completely.

4) The wise pet. Oops, I mean the faun tutor (and now it sounds as though we’ve fallen into Narnia, I know). This was something that made my skin itch. When Malora comes to live with the centaurs, one of the first beings she meets Honus, a combination tutor and pet. It is disconcerting and disturbing to see the objectification and ‘ownership’ of sentient beings throughout the book, especially when it is NEVER unpacked. If there was any self-consciousness evident in the writing at all, I could be reconciled to it. Instead, there is none. And it feels creepy.

This list is by no means exhaustive. For further insight, check out The Book Smugglers’ take. They were the ones who identified the narrative voice - I didn't even know what it was called. *le sigh* Another interesting note: according to Amazon, Daughter of the Centaurs is a young adult title. I found it to be very juvenile (and thus the label 'middle grade').

Kate Klimo’s Daughter of the Centaurs was not for me – in fact, I got to a point where I actively disliked it. I kept reading in hope… but I urge you not to make the same mistake.

Not recommended.
Profile Image for Isa Lavinia.
596 reviews297 followers
August 26, 2011
An entertaining if not entirely successful book.

The plot starts well enough then takes needless and sometimes absurd turns.
I got the sense that, by its subject matter, this book was meant to be Young Adult, but the writing is too simplistic. Don't get me wrong, you don't need big words to convey big emotions and there were certainly several descriptive passages that proved just that. But the characters' motives, the plot itself, were too simple and it was sometimes jarring to read mentions of rape and murder in a child-like prose.

Malora, the main character, is a mix of wild child (a part of her that was well-written and compelling) and Mary-Sue (a part which, obviously, was not). You have an extremely pragmatic character, who will not cry for her father's death or the destruction of her people because life goes on and she needs a level head to survive, then later on takes to her bed in a fit of tears because some minor character she
barely knew gets himself banished for his own stupidity (an event for which she absurdly blames herself when in similar situations back in her village she'd brush it off and recognise the ridiculousness of it all). Her behaviour, even given all the changes she goes through, was not credibly consistent.

The centaur society had a lot of potential to be explored, especially the whole issue of class differences, but it never gets the attention it should.
The culmination of the story ends up being a horse race which, not only plunges the impoverished centaurs into deeper poverty keeping us from rejoicing over her victory (though that's later resolved), but also ends up being anticlimactic given that the book opened with a horrible attack from winged demons.

I really liked the whole scents and visions aspect of the story, I hope the next one will explore this.

Still, this one was a light and nice read.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Heidi.
756 reviews174 followers
January 25, 2012
Review originally posted here.

Malora was born with an affinity for horses, and desires nothing more than to follow in her father’s footsteps as a horse wrangler and hunter. After leatherwings ravage her family’s settlement, destroying both men and horse, her mother sends her off into the plains with Sky--her father’s horse that was too big to be carried off--in order to secure her safety. She begins a herd of her own, strong, black, fast horses, encountering no other being for three years. When her herd, and Malora, are captured by a group of centaurs seeking horses to compete in an annual race, Malora finds herself surrounded by a completely foreign culture and way of life. Malora determines the comforts of civilized living are worth losing her freedom, but she must determine how much she is willing to sacrifice.

So. Okay. I have to get this off my chest. I like genre bending, but I’m quickly getting sick of books trying to pass off fantasy as science fiction in order to somehow jam it into trends that are currently more popular. Daughter of the Centaurs was constructed like the opposite of Star Wars. Instead of “A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away...” it supposedly is set “A long long time in the future right here on earth...”. I cannot for the life of me understand why this was necessary. There’s no explanation of the history of how centaurs and other creatures came about/if they were always there, and this would be fine if it weren’t supposed to be our world. The only time this reality is even brought up within the story is through books, which I also had a huge issue with. This is supposed to be so far in the future that humans are considered “living fossils” and yet our physical books have survived. Not survived in that they were printed on high quality linen paper and preserved well in safe environments; survived in the sense that wealthy centaurs actually have our physical books like Dr. Seuss which was probably printed on highly acidic paper and they read them in their homes and what not. Plus if Stephenie freaking Meyer is one of the “great” literary names that survives the test of time in a completely unironic way alongside the likes of Austen, Shakespeare, and Dickens, I WILL RISE FROM THE GRAVE AND CUT SOMEONE. Honestly I really wish Daughter of the Centaurs had just embraced the fantasy label and either cut out the aspects that tied it to our current society, or provided stronger ties to make it more believable, as is, the story was weakened.

The narration of Daughter of the Centaurs is at times perfect. It’s told in the present tense, making it very reminiscent of an oral tale one would hear spoken around the camp fire. This works beautifully in the beginning of the story, while Malora is on her own save for her horses, but becomes slightly less effective as the story progresses. The world and story that Klimo has constructed have a great base, but could use some trimming. Daughter of the Centaurs could have made a good stand alone story, but I did not like most of the allusions towards future plots. For example, Malora has visions of meeting a man in the future. I loved that this story had no romance in it, as this is always refreshing, but the foreshadowing of a future romance to me seemed forced and irrelevant to the current story. Again, this came across somewhat as an attempt to shove this book into a popular trend, and it would have been best left alone. There's a chance this is me just being a stick in the mud about preferring this story as a stand alone.

I did very much enjoy the featuring of centaurs as main characters. I’ve never read a book where this was done before, and the society constructed with them was very interesting, if intentionally frivolous. Malora comments at one point that she herself is more horse than the centaurs themselves, and for all intents and purposes, this is true. Centaurs seem to be largely ashamed of their horse halves, attempting to cover any horselike scent, and going modestly clothed in order to minimize their animal half. This aspect of the story was very well done, and created a nice counterpart between horse loving Malora and the horse shaming centaurs. The power of olfactory stimulation from scents was very unique as well. Orion, one of the centaurs to initially discover and befriend Malora, has a profession of creating scents--oils or perfumes that the centaurs use to disguise their horsey smells--and they have a powerful affect on Malora. When Malora inhales the created scents, she is able to have visions associated with that smell, even if it is another’s memory. Finally, the horse lore in Daughter of the Centaurs was fantastic. Malora’s knowledge of and skill with horses is so well presented, her interactions with the animals easily became my favorite part of this story.
Profile Image for Lili V.
485 reviews
August 16, 2015
I love when stories--particularly with "selfless" female protagonists/heroines--live by the seat of their pants and know the skills--or slowly learn, in this case--how to survive and be independent. When Malora must leave her People and live alone forevermore with just her horses as company, she saw a restless but fortifying life ahead of her. When she went back to discover the desolation of her people it destroyed something in her. That's when they discovered that the People were not as dead as they thought. A society of human and horse hybrids have been living successfully since the war with the People of Mount Kamaria--known now as Mount Kheiron, habitat of the centaurs--occured. From Daughter of the Mountains, to Daughter of the Plains, to Daughter of the Centaurs, Malora "Ironbound" Thora-Jayke does not fail to capture the reader's heart and symbolize inspiration for a whole other race.

Such vivid descriptions of mountainous and barren landscapes. So easy to hear the hoofs of Malora's "boys and girls" stampeding across the plains. Without the need to learn to read or write, Malora's voice captures more abstract concepts and appreciated the primal nature of the land she knows by heart. Her love of horses became my love of horses for all their nickering, whinnying, snorts and eye-rolls. When first encountering the Highlanders and their method of living, the frivolity was comforting but seen as a waste through the main characters'. The author's writing ability to depict all the monuments, murals and colorful aspects of a Highlanders' life was dazzling and absolutely awe-inspiring to behold. With the minor addition of its own terminology, Daughter of the Centaurs was originally created and uniquely executed. I did not want to put down this book for longer than six hours, couldn't part with it; not the world or the characters.

The plot did prove a bit too peaceful and calm, but it was successful in appealing to the no-nonsense side of me. I can't stand when authors make up unnecessary conflict between two parties just to liven up a certain scene. The book's solitary, soothing tone helped develop Malora's characters and was easy to use as a filter to distinguish traits and personalities of other characters.

It is obvious, reading the ending and knowing all the other unanswered questions, that there will be a second book in the series. No doubt the "Centauriad #1" gave that away. Its the waiting that might do me in if I don't get another horse-y book-related fix in the next six months.

Grade: A-
Profile Image for W..
Author 6 books43 followers
August 26, 2011
Review: Centauriad #1: Daughter of the Centaurs by K.K. Ross (for ages 12 and up)

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.

This review was based on an ARC provided by the publisher.
Profile Image for Dot.
29 reviews9 followers
December 12, 2011
Oh, geez. First, I'll give some props. I always loved the Walter Farley and Marguerite Henry books, and I liked the main character's interaction with her horses. It was an enjoyable part of the plot line.

Having the story set in future Africa (I'm assuming, due to the types of animals that show up) was kind of interesting, although I'm a bit curious as to how hippos are somehow not dangerous to humans, since they're considered totally aggressive and kill humans all the time. I think the girl on the front cover is nowhere near as dark as the main character describes herself in the book, so that's a bit disappointing.

Aaannd now...can we talk about the Twani? I haven't read an uncomfortable cultural mishap like that in a while. You see, they're small cat-people who the centaurs saved from a volcano many ages ago, so every generation since then has pledged themselves to the service of the centaurs. It makes them happy, you see. And don't even try to pay them, because that makes them less happy. Basically, it reads like the author needed an excuse to have a race in servitude (perhaps because centaurs have tricky physical logistics), but wanted to avoid all the icky cultural implications that would ensue. But somehow, having these cat-people adds a whole different level of squick, especially the one that fawns over our main character.

In full honesty, I think this would have worked better as a middle reader novel. Right now, the writing style and plot line just isn't working for YA, but a little tweaking could have made a really terrific adventure for younger girls.

Profile Image for Victoria.
2,512 reviews53 followers
December 13, 2012
Despite its rather cheesy cover, the description of this book really attracted me to it. Centaurs in a post-apocalyptic world? Sounded terrific! Unfortunately, its execution failed to be as intriguing. The book opened not with mythical half-human, half-horse creatures but with a ragged group of human survivors (the “People”). Malora, a young girl obsessed with her father’s horses, and with a mother who spoke only in platitudes, witnessed a tragic attack by Leatherwings (monstrous humanoid bat-type creatures) and eventually set off into the wilderness alone. The book felt painstakingly detailed, but - frustratingly - without any of the background story that felt rather necessary regarding this new version of Earth.

Even after the introduction of the centaurs, the book still felt overly detailed, but without ever setting up an actual plot. I kept waiting - and waiting - for something more interesting to happen than endless details on the luxuries of the living with the Highland centaurs. The book felt like set up, with Malora’s visions foreshadowing the future (of the series, apparently). The strong relationship between Malora and her horses certainly spoke to my inner twelve-year-old, but the underdeveloped relationships and lack of plot soured the book as a whole. The foundation was laid for a plot more thrilling than a horse-race and while the curious hints of the future were intriguing, I just am not dying to see where the series goes from here.
Profile Image for Branwen Sedai *of the Brown Ajah*.
971 reviews171 followers
August 9, 2011
I luckily received this book through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. Despite her family wanting her to be a healer when she grows up, like her mother, Malora dreams of being a master horserider, like her father. When her family and tribe are all killed by malevolent huge bat-creatures called leatherwings, Malora escapes and lives for a few years on the open plains with her beloved horse, Skye. She breeds and cares for her own horde of wild horses until a group on centaurs capture them. Malora travels with them to Mount Kheiron, a huge city of centaurs. While there she learns of their customs and way of life.

This book was great for a number of reasons. First of all, I have always enjoyed horses, but never actually took care of any. The first half of this book relates a lot of information about horses, horse behavior, and how to train them; which I found very interesting. Secondly, the author paints an image of centaurs that is very different from the myths and stories that most people know, so it was very enjoyable to learn about their society and habits. Like I said, this image of centaurs is very different from a lot of other myths about them but as long as you go into this book with an open mind it’s very enjoyable.
50 reviews1 follower
October 26, 2011
In a world where dystopian meets fantasy this book was an interesting concept. We follow a young human girl into the bush of what could be an African savanna of modern time after her whole village is decimated. Her only companion left from her father and the village she loved is a horse. Along the way the two pick up more horses and she finds herself taking care of a whole herd of horses she lovingly thinks of as her boys and girls. She and the herd are trapped by a group of Centaurs. They take her to the Highlands where they live and her life changes.

I found this book to be fascinating. I couldn't put it down. It was a good read but some of the parts fell a little flat. The development of the main character was quite nice but the other characters were a little flat. The horses were more interesting than the Centaurs which is depressing. Though I got the feeling that the Centaurs, at least the Highlanders, were more or less the idealistic philosophers of the age of the Greeks and Romans. The were too frivolous and airy to care about the others below them for my liking. Though I must say, this book left me wanting more. I would surely read the next book that comes out.
Profile Image for Kira.
58 reviews
March 23, 2012
When the Leatherwings hit her village, Malora is forced to flee with her family's horse, a few provisions, and the clothes on her back. Three years later, she, and the horses she rescued along the way, fall into a trap set by her people's enemies, the Centaurs. Forced to become their "guest" and adopt their ways, Malora feels unsettled. She likes most of them, but their ways are strict and stifling to her. When a group of rogues start attacking people on the trade route that the centaurs use, innocent people begin dying and deep secrets about the past between the centaurs and her people begin to emerge. Can Malora save the centaurs? Will she find a place she can call home?

DAUGHTER OF THE CENTAURS is really slow to start and doesn't have much of a plot until about pg 200. Still, the characters are likable and the spread-out action does keep the reader wanting to read more. Readers who are fans of fantasy or who like books that are more character-based than plot-based might enjoy reading this book.
Profile Image for Gab.
104 reviews
February 26, 2013
Centaurs aren't seen nearly enough in today's books and that's what drew me to this book originally. I loved the take that Kate Klimo took on them, but I couldn't help but feel that the book was uneventful. I never sensed a conflict, or impending doom. Furthermore I didn't really click with the main character as I thought she was rather overly perfect. The vivid descriptions and clever take on centaurs, their society and their living space was incredible.
504 reviews141 followers
October 15, 2013
First Look:  This book looked awesome because a)centaurs, b) horses, c) is that not the same girl that's on the cover of Blue Flame? and c) CENTAURS.  Before I saw the tagline, I thought the main character would be a centaur, which is a unique perspective I've never read before.  She's not a centaur, though--she's human.  And before reading, I thought that she was literally a daughter of centaurs.  I spent way too long trying to figure out how that works (I don't recommend doing this).  And then all I could think of was Firenze from AVPS.

Setting:  Apparently this was supposed to be some sort of dystopian novel, based off reading some other reviews.  I can see how it might be our world, but after something devastated all our technology and reverting us back to square one.  I can't see how the centaurs and other assorted creatures would have come about. 

Barring the dystopian aspect, though, the rest of the setting never did much for me.  The centaurs, as a society, came off as frivolous, illogical, and immature.  I understand that their overwhelming passion for the arts was supposed to come off as a little impractical.  And yet, for me, it went over the top.  I couldn't respect them.  They devote their lives to things such as sculpting, painting, or making mosaics, while leaving the day-to-day cooking, cleaning, and such to another species that's basically a slave race.  (Hello, House Elves?)  When Malora, the main character, shows interest in becoming a blacksmith, everyone (including the blacksmith) thinks she's insane.  While the worldbuilding was in-depth, it just didn't work for me.

 Characters:   The problem I had with Malora was that nothing seemed to affect her.  When all of the men from her tribe, including her father, are killed right in front of her (this isn't a spoiler--anyone who has read the back cover of this book will know that this happens), she barely even reacts.  She just gets whiny because she loses her favorite horse.  The rest of her people are killed, and she barely even cries.  She just doesn't have any emotions.  Except at the end when she becomes super-protective of her horses.  Then she gets angry and starts bossing people around, sometimes rudely.  Apart from that, she didn't do anything--she just let things happen to her.

Other characters were either obnoxious or flat.  Or both.  Orion never gave me any distinct sense of personality, nor did any of the other major centaurs.  Neal showed a little promise, but he wasn't given a big enough part in the story for me to get to know him better.  I couldn't stand Zephele--she just never stopped talking, and it made her seem shallow.  And annoying.  I can't abide people who never stop talking. 

Plot:  For the first part, there was a plot.  It moved along at a good pace, and had action.  It presented an actual problem that the characters had to face.  There was conflict, between Malora and the people of the tribe, and between the tribe and the Leatherwings. 

Unfortunately, though, that level of conflict dropped off quickly.  After that, there wasn't really a plot.  At that point it became a 300-page tour of the centaurs' society and culture. 

Apart from the tidbit about House Elves, I can safely say I've never read anything like this before.  Centaurs are a rare topic in YA fiction.  The setting in general was a different take on centaurs, and mythical creatures in general.

Third person + present tense=lots of awkward phrases and a generally bad combination.  I don't know if I've ever seen this combination work well.  This book wasn't an exception.  The phrasing was often awkward, disorienting, or both.  It skimmed over seemingly important things with not much thought.  For example, it suddenly jumped a few years (the time Malora spent alone in the wild) with no transition, which confused me at first.  If you're going to have a huge gap in your story, you have to clue your reader in on it before you just drop them on the other side without warning.

Likes: Nothing not already mentioned above.

Not-so-great: Are we not going to talk about the cover model's collarbone and shoulder?  Is it just me, or does she look absurdly bony, or is that just the angle and the background?  Model, go eat some cake, please.  Preferably an entire cake.

Also, what was with Malora's fascination and obsession with small talk?  She keeps yearning for small talk with her mother.  I can't understand this.   She seems to not understand the concept.  Here's the definition of small talk: polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters, esp. as engaged in on social occasions.  It is, by definition, unimportant and shallow.  You talk about the weather and your health but neither person really cares what the other is saying.  So what's the point?  Why would anyone long for this?  I'm an INTJ--small talk is the kind of thing that makes us scream internally because we recognize how pointless it is but sometimes we just can't avoid it.

"Herself and Father feel that I've been adversely influenced by reading far too many books about love. Ancients like Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen and Victoria Roberts and Danielle Steele and Nico Simonette and Shakespeare and Stephenie Meyer."

How about...no. This is what survives into humanity's future? Danielle Steele and Stephenie Meyer? No wonder people talk with such fear about an impending apocalypse.

Overall: Daughter of the Centaurs was an awkwardly written book with hardly any plot to speak of.  The setting was unique, but it also dominated the book and didn't make room for other important aspects like characterization or conflict.  The main character, Malora, showed no emotion, and she never did anything.  Other characters, like Zephele, just annoyed me.  Overall, I wouldn't recommend this, and I won't be reading the sequel.


Similar Books: It involved humans interacting with horse-like creatures like The Scorpio Races (though in all other aspects they're very different books).  It also reminds me of Dragonswood and Brightly Woven, though I don't have a good reason why.
Profile Image for Alz.
83 reviews15 followers
September 30, 2012
The book starts off fairly interesting, with little Malora living in the Settlement with her family, wanting to raise horses like her father and being shunned by the other people for a variety of reasons. Malora is an outsider for all that she is a child, loves her parents who love her back, and it was pretty nice at first to read YA where the heroine 1) HAS parents who 2) actually care about her.

The book blurb is misleading and made for a weirdly-paced initial reading experience since there is a Leatherwings attack right away, but it doesn't totally devstate the Settlement and leave Malora the last living human the way the blurb makes you think. No, it takes several more chapters and several more Leatherwings attacks before that happens.

From then on, there's a timejump of three summarized years of Malora living alone on the plains with an increasing herd of rescued and incestuous horses. I say incestuous because her stallion Sky mates with a mare and produces twin offspring, and thereafter it seems like the horses are all breeding with each other and...er, yeah. Great.

And then Malora meets the centaurs and everything in this book goes downhill, and downhill, and ever on downhill, the downiest downhill that can ever boringly be downhill in the history of downhilliness.

The centaurs all largely sound the same--okay, flighty young Zephele talks more than the others (god she won't shut up with her inane chatter that literally fills pages), but they all speak in the same formal pseudo-educated slightly-formal style, and none of them have any distinct character except for shallow things like Zephele being flighty or Orion being nicer than the other centaurs to Malora at first.

So the centaurs are boring. The worldbuilding around them is sub-par and kind of weird--apparently they're all living in this city that they stole from humans after massacring them or something, and there are the Highlanders (nobles) and the Flatlanders (peasants) but I'm unclear exactly as to the politics between them except that they don't like each other because they are nobles VS peasants. The Highlanders adhere to the Edicts, which are 14 centaur laws that I didn't know were helpfully all listed in the very back of the book, which would have made things easier since they're never all spelled out in the text and they're just referred to as the First Edict or the Seventh Edict and I'd have no idea what that meant except for vague context--

Ahem. Even weirder is the fact that the centaurs openly admit that they don't like their horse halves and carry around scented cloths to hold to their noses specifically because they don't like the smell of horse. Okay, fine, that's probably the centaur equivalent of BO, but really? They don't like their horse halves...why? ALL centaurs are like this?

It also seems a tad odd to me that they go around racing horses when they themselves are half horse, but this is never mentioned or brought up as an issue.

That's right, the centaurs want horses because there's an annual race that the Flatlanders have always won past years and the current centaur Highlander leader wants to win really really badly. Which is where Malora and her herd of horses come in, and where the story was ruined for me because Malora's actions and thoughts make no sense whatsoever from this point onward.

Basically Malora's entire herd of horses, that she has raised since birth and rescued from certain death and cared for three years running, her sole companions, are brutally trapped by the centaurs and some of them are killed in the process while a few others escape. Malora herself is snatched off the back of one of the horses and the centaurs view her with open horror and talk right in front of her about killing her since she's a human.


Fine, I thought. She's in shock, I thought. She was trapped in a dead-end canyon with her horses and there was a flash flood that drowned a bunch of them and nearly her and she got rescued by centaurs she didn't even know existed.

But no, Malora is just stupidly, badly written, or extremely shallow and emotionally weird. Her next thought is, Oh no! Sky! I don't see him anywhere, so that means he's either dead or escaped!

And then she decides that she's uninterested in the rest of the herd because Sky isn't there anymore. Seriously. She's just kind of depressed that he's gone (and that's all, vaguely depressed, not torn by grief or worry or anything) and oh well, she doesn't want to lead the herd anymore if he's not there. Hey these centaurs have silk clothes and fancy tents and weird cat-people servants! Life with them might be okay, even though they treat her like an animal and are thinking about killing her!

And thus the book continues, with Malora totally dismissing every thought of her horses for 75% of the rest of the book except for token mentions about her being concerned about them, when the "plot" demanded it. "Plot" gets quotation marks because there is no plot. The rest of the book is one mass infodump of various centaurs explaining to Malora bits of their society that are really not that interesting and hardly pertain to what's going on.

I don't really care that centaurs "jubilate" instead of dance or that they are forbidden from drinking spirits, or that they choose a vocation when they are twelve and train for a few years under a master, or that they are vegetarians by choice, or etc. etc. I don't mind knowing these tidbits in the interest of worldbuilding, but I don't need to read 5 pages dedicated to Malora being led around by Zephele or Orion and having them explain to her these things in minute detail.

The last quarter of the book is suddenly re-devoted to the horses and the horse race, as if the author realized that she was running out of pages and oh yeah, there ought to be some kind of climax! So suddenly, for no apparent reason, the centaurs that have mistrusted and feared Malora decide to trust her and be nice to her and give her all the help she needs with the vague plotty things that happen. Mind you, this is after hundreds of pages and Malora totally ignoring/forgetting the existence of her horses that were stolen from her by centaurs and being left in the care of somebody Malora didn't like or trust.

But the whole general setup of Malora-with-the-centaurs reeks of self-gratified Mary Sue. Malora is great and suddenly everyone realizes it! Malora is so awesome she can wield a sledgehammer with ease and strike the same place on an anvil ten times in a row and impress the crusty old centaur blacksmith! Malora can lasso a running ostrich at fifty paces on horseback! Malora learns to read and write and memorize poetry within a couple of months!

All this is interspersed with more infodumps and random inconsequential plot tangents that never go anywhere in this book but will probably pop up in book 2, like how Orion's older brother is missing (presumed dead, presumed eaten by a hippo, I'm not kidding), and there are rumors of wild centaurs running amok in the legendary nearby Port City of Kahiro that we never get to see, and Malora has a random dream about some hot silver-haired guy named Lume.

Oh yeah, about that. The book didn't go into centaur/human romance, which I half feared and half anticipated as at least something interesting in this otherwise boring stupid book. But nope. They're all either big-brother figures, vague not-really-antagonists, or BFFs. Not a hint of romance anywhere. Also, Orion's tutor is a faun named Honus.

Which begs the question: Are there other fauns? Where did Honus come from? There are talk of other peoples with weird-sounding names, who apparently are not human, but are they centaurs? And there's some Empress or Emperor somewhere who wants an alliance with the centaurs for some vague reason? What is going on? DOES ANY OF THIS MATTER?


The book also ends on what is supposed to be a rousing note of jubilation and triumph but it falls totally flat since there's no logical reason for this to happen because there was no setup and somehow I doubt everyone involved is going to be accepting of the proposal put forth. The end! Read book two if you want any resolution to anything whatsoever! The Leatherwings never make another appearance again, by the way, they were solely a plot device to get this story started.

Nope. Not touching book 2 with a ten-foot pole. I have better ways to spend my time.
1,083 reviews36 followers
July 11, 2018
I was interested to read a story starring a lesser-used creature (centaurs), but the execution had a number of little flaws that built up to a disappointing flop.
1) I went in expecting centaurs = Greek setting, so had a moment of confusion when, several pages in, the animals being hunted were all African (lions, giraffes, rhinos, etc). So then I adjusted my mental image to say "okay, even though there's a brown-haired white girl on the cover, the protagonist must actually be black." Then about *50 pages in*, someone describes her as having flowing red hair ("AAAAGH!"). THEN, over 100 pages in, they finally bother to mention that she has red-ochre-y skin. Distinctive details of appearance should be mentioned early on to avoid forcing the reader to rewrite their mental image again and again, thereby disturbing the flow of the story. Description seems to be a recurring weakness for this author, because later when she describes the main centaur she says the human girl's head is level with his, which gave me difficulty forming a mental image: are these centaurs horse-sized (in which case this girl is a giant), pony-sized, or what?
2) the author uses characters talking to themselves as a way for the protagonist to learn about her new setting. Fair enough, but the guy doing the talking speaks to himself in an unrealistic level of detail, making it obvious that this was an info-dump.
3) they keep talking about the Edicts everyone has to follow, but though they mention a few, they never really spell them out, even when (convenient opportunity!) the protagonist gets a tutor to civilize her. Instead, the Edicts are only listed in an appendix, leaving readers fumbling in the dark if they don't know to look for it.
4) for some reason, the capable and independent-minded protagonist DOESN'T bristle and/or get seriously creeped out by being openly and unambiguously spoken of as a 'pet' or a possession! WHAT?! I don't care how lonely you've been, if the people you fall in with regularly and unabashedly treat you with that level of condescending OWNERSHIP, you either confront them or get the heck out of there.
5) her horses are her life and family for years, but once they're separated, she DOESN'T make any effort to openly visit them or secretly sneak out to them for weeks or months?! What the heck is wrong with you???
6) interesting social and political problems are hinted at but never really followed through with, when they could (SHOULD) have been a driving force in a much more dynamic story; but instead,
7) we finish with a stupid sporting event (see: Ben-Hur chariot race) that for some unconvincing reason that came completely out of the blue will solve all these serious sociopolitical rifts.

Though it's not the worst thing I've read, it was very disappointing. I'm curious to see whether the sequel will make better use of the promising bits, but I am definitely not in love with this one.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
125 reviews11 followers
August 16, 2017
oh my god! this book took me too long to read and it was booooooooring! I mean I read and read and read and hoped that it will get more interesting, something will finally happen but nothing happen! there was no action, no question, no quest, no conflict and even no emotion!
the only reason that probably make me to finish the book was that I had not much of a choice! for couple of days I had an hour ride in a bus and noting to do except reading this book.

The story is about a verrry young girl who witness some mysterious birds catch and eat his dad and all the village men. she came home telling the story and then those birds keep coming until her mom finally make her to run toward the plains and never to come back. this girl(around 11 or 12 I don't remember) is able to survive in the wild and came back home finding that her mother and all the other are dead. oh and she was able not to survive in the wild but also she had gathered more than 16 horse!
Some time later some centaurs who are looking for fine running horse find her and her horses and she decide to go along with them to their city even knowing that they were the ones that killed all humans long time ago. and there they keep her horses in stable and for about 4 month she doesn't even once goes to visit these poor horses that she call them her girls and boys! I mean come onnn how can you be so attached to something and so careless at the same time??
The other problem that I had with this book was that the writer kept creating new character and just when you were about to getting to know the character she moved to another one. from sky (her horse) to the prince to his sister to their teacher to the hunter and so on. That's not the way characters are. they won't disappear suddenly from someones life, this happen in this book because writer wants them to do so and this make the book to look so much stupid and nonsense.
remember I said there was no emotion in this book? there is a scene in the book where one of the prince's cousin and another centaur are being sent to wild to eventually die there (which is really much better if they would have killed them right away) and there is only one night that they even think about their poor cousin. after that, the poor being isn't even mention. I call that cruelty, that's not how we really think and act in real life!
so why give it a 2? well part of it because the characters are well developed. The girl had lived in wild for about 5-6 years and surely it would effect her knowledge of words and this is well shown in the book. and the other thing is this book has a second volume!!!!! I really want to read the second book because I have absolutely no idea how in the world she is going to write a second volume for this because there is no question left unanswered, no uncompleted quest or anything that reader wants to know what would happen!
Profile Image for Kristina.
196 reviews7 followers
January 11, 2012
Originally published at Nose in a Book

One of my hard limits in fiction is animal death. That doesn't mean werewolf death, because weres are humans too. It means the death of Sookie's cat really, really upset me. It's the reason I can't seem to finish The Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The beginning of this one was rough for me, and I'll admit I had to skim a little. So Malora watches her father and all the men carried off by Leatherwings, which come back later to finish the rest of the People off. Malora's mother tells her to run and stay to the south because of an ancient enemy to the north. So naturally, Malora runs and goes to the north. She inevitably runs into the centaurs, the ancient enemy, who proceed to drown half her horses in a canyon and then capture her. I liked that this intro happened quickly. Ross doesn't drag out the introductions to Malora's parents or her people, and the story of the Leatherwings begins and ends in about 40 pages. I liked it. It was much more fast-paced than the first in a series usually is. The only downside to this quick intro is that Malora seems unnervingly willing to join with these centaurs, who just killed half the herd she spend three years building. I feel like Malora's loneliness outweighs how she feels about her herd. And I'm nervous about where this is going to go, as the herd was captured to be used in a race. I am more wary of these silly-seeming centaurs than Malora.

What happens after this is a whole lot of telling instead of showing. Orion, a centaur noble, basically gives Malora an oral history of his people and their land thereby landing the reader in Exposition Junction (something I usually use to refer to TV). Pages and pages of descriptions of centaurs and their city, but what I would have liked to have seen was Malora discovering these things on her own. Couldn't she have been dazzled by the female centaurs upon entrance to the city? Couldn't she have asked questions instead of getting it all fed to her by Orion a measly 24 hours after her capture? And why isn't she more upset? It all sat very strangely with me. Malora doesn't have much of a personality outside of being a "wild child." She's the last human, but when she hears stories of how humans hunted centaurs, she feels sorry for the centaurs. I never even got the feeling that she cared for her horses when Ross goes to great lengths to present her as the Horse Whisperer. I hated how she called the horses "the boys and girls." I don't know why. It just grated on me. And the Twani? It felt like a replay of the house elves from Harry Potter. I wanted a whole book on the Twani instead of the centaurs, who were silly and shallow. As the book progressed, I also felt more and more like this is a middle-grade novel, not YA. This is fine for me, as I read middle-grade fiction a lot, but most people like to know what they're getting themselves into, you know? I'm not sure how this one would be marketed.

Malora does seem to have her own sense of self, at least. Or she will until she's absorbed into centaur society. At the end of chapter eleven, when she learns she "belongs" to Orion, she says, "I'm nobody's but my own." So there's that, which is a lot more than 90% of YA heroines ever think about themselves. (And I did find myself wondering what kind of inter-species romance would spring from this unholy human-centaur alliance, but this book is romance free.) Orion's father, the leader of the centaurs, basically confiscates her horses and lets Malora stay on probation. He says a lot of true things about Malora being a "living symbol" that people will rally around if given the chance. There's a lot of talk of "civilizing" her. This is the beginning of the loss of Malora's sense of self, and she's realizing it. She wonders, at the end of chapter thirteen, "Is all of this really worth the price of a soft bed, good food, fine clothes, and lively talk?" We soon meet Zephele, Orion's sister, and she grates on my last nerve with her chatty, unwitting superiority, but as a friend for Malora, she's fine. Zephele is another source of constant exposition. She and Malora talk, but really, it's about giving the reader information about the centaurs and their city. Lots of info-bombs are dropped by the Silvermane siblings.

It's a crying shame that Neal Featherhoof isn't introduced until the end because he is fantastic. He makes all the exposition of the Silvermanes worth it, though he does a fair amount of explaining himself. We learn that the Highlanders we've seen for three quarters of the novel are living privileged, frivolous lives while the Lowlanders are living in poverty and squalor. The plot has appeared! I thought we were going to be stuck reading lessons about TS Eliot poems forever! Something that bothered me, though, is that it takes Malora way too long to visit her horses, and when she finally does, she finds they're being abused. This is what I meant by not feeling like Malora had any emotional attachment to her horses. I understand that she's wrapped up in luxury for the first time, but she's really not living up to this Daughter of the Plains ideal she (or Ross) has of herself.

The ending wraps things up nicely, with some twists. I assume (or hope) the next novel will explore the differences between the High and Lowlanders, Malora's new Hand, and the future of her Furies. There are hints of a romance to come in the next novel(s) as well. I think the story got better the further along it went, but it didn't pull off quite what it wanted. (I just want to as well clarify that I am using GoodRead's star system (two stars = it was okay) as opposed to Amazon's star system (two stars = I didn't like it).)
October 26, 2016
I liked this book a lot because it was adventurous. The main character, Malora, is forced to leave her village because her people were attacked by these large birds called "leatherwings." After Malora leaves her village on her dad's horse, she wakes up and finds herself surrounded by what she thought were men on horses, but ended up being centaurs. These centaurs took her in and let her live a luxurious life with them. I liked this book a lot because I just couldn't put it down.
Profile Image for Janelle.
11 reviews
November 25, 2018
I enjoyed Daughter of the Centaurs, as a whole. I thought some of the dialogue was a little funny, but attributed it to serving the purpose of distinguishing the backgrounds of the characters. Throughout the book, I kept feeling like I've read it before, even though I know I have not.
Profile Image for Jennifer  Butler.
25 reviews
June 18, 2017

I enjoyed reading about centaurs in this aspect. A fun read and recommended for horse lovers and lovers of mythology!
Profile Image for Kathleen.
2,979 reviews5 followers
July 5, 2018
Both a good horse book AND a good fantasy novel - no mean feat! I plan to dive right into Book 2.
412 reviews1 follower
October 30, 2019
Very interesting world built for this story. How often do you get to read a story about centaurs!?
Profile Image for Mara.
661 reviews102 followers
October 22, 2014
Cover Blurb: Yes or No? No, I'm not a fan of the cover. The character impersonator is way too prominent, especially her mouth. And she looks nothing like how I pictured Malora (they rarely do). The title is what initially caught my attention.

Characters: Malora was surprisingly likable. Whenever heroines are described as kick-ass, I get a bad feeling about them. Kick-ass is code for major chip on her shoulder and man-hater. Malora is tough; she knows the survival and hunting skills required to survive in the Plains, and she takes a very practical view on life. She's unassuming and curious, but cautious and intelligent. She genuinely knows how to take care of herself and doesn't at all have the Attitude. I liked her a lot, which I wasn't expecting. Orion was amusing with his enthusiastic and scholarly personality, and Honas was very down-to-earth and serious. I did not become attached to Zephele, like I thought I would. Normally I actually do like over-excited, slightly silly side characters, but Zephele was too bubbly and frivolous. I grew tired of her very quickly.

The Romance: There isn't any!

Plot: Sometime in our far future, the world will have regressed into a stone age culture. People will carve out a simple existence in the Plains and Mountains, while centaurs live in luxury and frivolity. People will have sunk into nothing more than myth. Malora's people are the last living humans, but they're wiped out by terrifying leather-winged creatures, and Malora is the only one who survives, along with her father's prize stallion Sky. Together, they set out into the wild Plains, building up a herd of horses, until they run into an expedition of centaurs who are rounding up said horses for their ruler's stables. Before the other centaurs can kill Malora, Orion, the ruler's son, takes her under his protection. Humans are practically nonexistent and Malora displays a surprising amount of intelligence for a two-legged creature. She's taken to the centaurs' city, where she introduced into a world of luxury and beauty and relaxation. The centaurs have cat-like people - the Twani - do everything for them (and according to the centaurs, the Twani are happy to be servants), while lesser-born centaurs till the land so the nobles can live in peace. It is a world entirely different from Malora's, and she must adhere to their rules or be banished. So Daughter of the Centaurs doesn't have a great deal of a plotline; it's mostly world building. And the world is very interesting. Here is a futuristic world that has no spaceships or anything like that, but instead feels like an older century. Humans are practically nonexistent and mythical beings such as centaurs and fauns are the predominant species. But the centaurs hate their horse halves, and try everything possible to emulate human behavior. They cover themselves with complicated wraps and wear boots, only the very poor eat meat, the females have to cover their heads, and they ride around in horse-drawn carriages rather than walk themselves. My only problem with the world building: the Author doesn't explore it nearly as much as she should have, given how much time is spent on it. What happened to push the world into a stone age existence? Where did centaurs and fauns come from? Are they the result of some genetic experiment from long ago? (And if that's the case, which I get the feeling it is, that's just weird.) Also given the very caste system setup of the centaur society, it seemed like this plot was perfect for a rebellion. No Reader is going to be convinced that the Twani are happy being servants, and the lower-caste centaurs are definitely not happy about the inequality of living. We can hope that Book #2 will get into some of this.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, present tense. For some reason, the present tense really struck me as rather odd for the story. I don't know why, because I have read books like this that are in present tense and it worked fairly well. But with this one . . . I don't know; something about the present tense just didn't work.

Content: None.

Conclusion: Highly anticlimactic. If it wasn't for Malora and my curiosity over what happened to create this timeline, I would have found Daughter of the Centaurs very difficult to get through. Not a whole lot happens, but I do have hopes that that will change in other books.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, fourteen-and-up, good for fans of fantasy and female protagonists who can genuinely take care of themselves.
Profile Image for Amy Acosta.
365 reviews78 followers
December 24, 2011
Malora's dream has always been to become a huntress and to ride over the plains with her father and the other hunters, but her tribe (the People) have very strict rules about what men and women should do. One day the Leatherwings (bat-like creatures) attack and kill all the men in the village. While every woman and child in the village mourns, Malora teaches herself to train, mount, ride, and do tricks on her father's horse Sky. She's determined to be prepared in case of another attack. The Leatherwing attacks continue and Malora's mother decides to send her away, instructing her to run to the farthest reaches of the plains. Before Malora goes, her mother warns her of an ancient enemy to the north. Four years pass and though Malora has rounded up an impressive herd of black horses that keep her company, she longs for human company again. So she goes back, only to find her whole village dead in a final Leatherwing attack. Blinded with grief Malora rides hard to the north forgetting about her mother's warning of the People's ancient enemies who live there. She finally meets one of them when she is rescued by Orion Silvermane, a centaur.

The world Malora lives in is supposed to be a very distant future of the real world. Meaning you'll read mentions about Romeo and Juliet, The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and even (sigh) Stephenie Meyer. I think it's pretty great how the new, the old, and the fantastical come to blend together in this book. But the one thing that bothers me is that it's never explained how this came to be. Where did all the mythical creatures come from?

I liked Malora a lot as a heroine. She is so brave and cunning from the star, and having lived all those years on her own has really made her grow up into an amazing young woman. She's the last human alive, so she decides to take her chances living with the centaurs, though they treat her more like a pet. I kept cheering her on to break some rules, or run away. I hated that she forgot about her horses after everything she said about them being her 'boys and girls.". Also, Malora seems to have some kind of magic in her, though this isn't fully explained or developed.

I liked Orion well enough, but not the rest of the centaurs and their frivolous attitudes. Zephele especially wasn't one bit endearing with her incessant chatter about silly things. Centaurs are clearly ashamed of being half horses. They use scents to mask their horsey odor, and use clothes and even boots! I almost put the book down at one point, but then came in Neal Featherhoof...a couple of quotes about him:

Neal Featherhoof has a dazzling but dangerous smile. It isn't the incisors, Malora thinks, as much as the mind at work behind the smile."

"I am unbearably infatuated," Zephele says without missing a step. "How could I not be? Have you no eyes in your head? Did you see his pectorals and his biceps? The centaur looks as if he were chiseled from marble. Flawless golden marble. And those flanks! Sheer, unadulterated bliss!"

Not only is he great to imagine and look at, but he is super caring of the Flatlander centaurs and tons of fun. Sadly he is introduced near the end of the book, so we don't get much time with this charming centaur.

One thing I had issue with is that Malora seems to be the same height as the centaurs as she sometimes would put an arm around their shoulders and such. So either she's a giant or the centaurs are pony size. I loved the Twani. They're cat-like people, and like Malora I kept imagining them like Puss in Boots. Sadly they're the servants of the centaurs. I kept waiting for an uprising of the Twani or the Flatlanders, but it just never happens.

Overall I feel like this book had great potential with there were too many loose ends. What happened to the Leatherwings of the beginning? How did the mythical creatures came to replace the humans? Where did all the technology and previous buildings go? What is up with Malora's visions? Who is the silver haired, silver eyed stranger of her dreams? I'd sure love to know.

*I received this book via Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for my honest review*
Profile Image for Lindsay Stares.
412 reviews30 followers
January 19, 2012
New Release! I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review.

(NB: It looks like the author's name on the cover changed between when the review copies were released and the final book release?)

Premise: Malora wants to grow up to train horses like her father before her, but when disaster strikes their tiny settlement, she and the horses must learn to survive alone in the wild. That is, until she meets travellers from a city of centaurs, who are rather surprised that any humans still exist. Should she run the other way, or try to find a place in their society?

I have extremely mixed feelings about this book.

On the one hand, I like the main character. She's got a lot of heart and fire, and I found her moral and emotional struggles convincing. I liked quite a few of the supporting characters, and the two societies we see over the course of the story are both interesting.

On the other hand, I think the larger setting is flat-out stupid; more on that below. It's the sort of thing that might be saved by extremely clever explanation, but that explanation was not forthcoming in this volume. Overall, I was aggravated by the number of plot threads that were teased or foreshadowed and then not dealt with. I understand that this is book one of however many, but the plot climax for this book was fairly lacking. It didn't feel like it had any stakes, and the other players in the final conflict only appeared very late in the book. It didn't leave me interested in the next book, it left me wondering whether the author actually has a plan.

Now, all that said, I loved the early part of the book, about Malora living on the plains with her horses. It was a bit like a fantasy Island of the Blue Dolphins, and once it lost that, I never really connected with it again. I did mostly enjoy the rest of the read, but I thought it could have been so much better.

In order to explain this a little more, I'm going to have to give away a few things.
So, Spoilers Ahead for Setting and Foreshadowing.

Pretty far into the book, it becomes clear that this is in fact not a fantasy world, but a future Earth. With centaurs (and satyrs and other hybrid folks), but no obvious magic. I'm sorry, but I have a really hard time just accepting centaurs studying 'ancient' human literature (like Shakespeare and Danielle Steele) without a hair of a hint of an explanation how we got from here to there. We find out that Malora might be the last human (not buying it, even barring some mystical foreshadowing) and that the centaurs massacred many of the humans a few generations back. Now the centaurs have a sort of weird two-tiered society, split between the useless tight-laced aristocracy and the earthy, sometimes-violent peasants. It's obvious that changing this will be part of the plot, but it isn't yet there.

There's also a race of cat-people slaves, but there's no foreshadowing that this is going to change anytime soon. Have authors somehow not learned that you really shouldn't say that a race of sentient beings likes being servile? Can you say: creepy nasty undertones?

More things that frustrated me: There's no hint of explanation why centaur perfume somehow gives Malora clairvoyance or hallucinations. There's one chapter where the satyr scholar thinks about how Malora might be some sort of destined savior. We never see his point of view before or after that, and it doesn't come up again. I hated that chapter.

End Spoilers

I liked a lot of things about this book, and I understand that the characters don't know the answers to some of my questions, and that's why the reader isn't given any explanation. Understanding that, however, doesn't mean excusing how jarring many of those unexplained things were.

In the end, I can't give this the benefit of the doubt. I hope that there is some plan for these plot elements, but too little is revealed in this volume, so I'm giving this 2 Stars.
Profile Image for Hylary Locsin.
166 reviews7 followers
October 21, 2012
Originally posted on my blog: http://libraryladyhylary.blogspot.com ! Check it out for more reviews!

In the distant future, twelve-year-old Malora is the daughter of Thora and Jayke, the leaders of the last tribe of the People. Malora’s tribe relies on their horses to hunt and bring game to feed the People, and no horse is faster than her father’s, Sky. Malora wants nothing more than to learn to become a hunter herself and have her own horse like Sky to look after. Malora’s life changes, however, when Leatherwings, vicious creatures with horrible human heads and large bat-like wings, murder all of the men in the tribe while they are on the hunt. Thora knows that the Leatherwings will return to finish off the rest of the tribe, so she sends Malora and Sky, the only horse that survived the attack, away from the tribe and into the wild. After three years on her own, Malora is now fifteen and the keeper of a large herd of horses thanks to Sky meeting with several wild mares in the bush. Malora knows every horse and protects them from predators, all the while wondering if she herself will ever encounter any other People. One day as Malora and the herd are travelling in the north, they catch the attention of Orion and his cousins, a travelling party of centaurs from the luxurious city of Mount Kheiron. Orion intends to capture the wild herd to serve his father, the leader of Mount Kheiron, in an annual race, and is shocked to discover Malora amongst the horses. None of the centaurs have ever laid eyes on one of the People, who were rumored to be long extinct, and both Orion and Malora are shocked to learn that not only are they able to communicate, but have more in common than they would have ever thought.

Combining fantasy with a post-apocalyptic future, this first installment in a new series for young adult readers will appeal to fans of Greek mythology, but holds particular interest for horse enthusiasts. The author’s love for horses is apparent in every aspect of the novel. Everything about the horses, from the way they eat, to the noises they make, to their general behavior is described in depth. Horse lovers are sure to relish these details. For readers who aren’t equine aficionados, however, the plot of the novel itself might not be as exciting. Malora is a likable if somewhat underdeveloped character. While the story primarily focuses on her, there is little exploration into her personality apart from being a robust and skilled huntress. She shows little vulnerability and it’s unclear if she has romantic feelings for any of the handsome male centaurs she becomes close to in the story. Far more interesting is the centaur civilization of Mount Kheiron, a luxurious but strict city divided into the haves (the Highlanders) and the have-nots (the Flatlanders.) Malora is lucky enough to become the “pet” of Orion, the son of Mount Kheiron’s leader, or Apex, so she has a rags-to-riches experience in the fanciest part of town. Hopefully in the next installments in the series, more about how Mount Kheiron was established will be explained so that the reader will fully understand how the distinction between Highlanders and Flatlanders came about. For horse fans, Daughter of the Centaurs is an enjoyable and different kind of read than they may have experienced. For those who aren’t as excited by things on four legs, this story might be one to pass by. The sequel, A Gathering of Wings, is set to be released May 28, 2013.

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I really like Greek mythology so the centaur aspect of it was entertaining for me. On the other hand, I am not a horse person, so the very detailed accounts of flanks, muzzles, and whinnies didn’t appeal to me. I think there are some clever ideas in the novel, but they got too muddled down by horse minutia. I would easily recommend this book to someone who loves all things equine. If that wasn’t the case, however, I probably would select something else.
Profile Image for Kathy Martin.
3,338 reviews73 followers
January 10, 2012
I was swept away by the world-building and the characters in this fantasy/dystopia. Malora is one of the few children of the small remaining Settlement of humans. Her mother is the Healer and her father is in charge of the horses and hunting. While it is traditional for girls to take up their mother's role, Malora wants to work with the horses. She knows that is her working with the horses is her destiny. She does convince her family and learns to care for and train the horses. But when she is twelve years old, the hunters are attacked by Leatherwings who kill them all. The Leatherwings attack the settlement too. Malora's mother sends her off with the horses and tells her never to return.

Malora spends three years on the Plains alone except for the herd of horses she assembles. She gets to know them and even think like them as she assumes the role of lead horse. When her horses are captured by a group of centaurs, her life changes unimaginably. They are as astonished to see her. The centaurs believed that all the humans had been killed. She is taken by the centaurs to their fantastic city. Mount Kheiron is a place of art, beauty, and education and is the home of the Highlanders - the upper class centaurs. She is made a pet of by Orion and Zephele - two of the children of the Apex who is the leader of the centaurs.

Malora is out of her depth. She had never imagined a life like she is living in Mount Kheiron. She learns about how the Highlanders live and about the Flatlanders too. She is convinced that centaurs are Perfect Beings. But gradually she begins to see that there is a lot of imperfection under the glossy picture.

A lot of the story revolves around a horse race to win the Golden Horse. It is an annual contest that happens on Founder's Day. The centaurs were out looking for horses to train for the race when they found Malora and her herd. They wanted to find better horses so that the Highlanders could finally win the trophy. There is great rivalry between the Highlanders and Flatlanders. There is also great disparity in the lives of Highlanders and Flatlanders. The Highlanders have lives of wealth and privilege. They have ample leisure time to pursue art, music, and dance. The Flatlanders are poor and work hard to survive.

The story introduced a number of different creatures. The Leatherwings are man-sized creatures that resemble bats. The Twani who serve the centaurs remind Malora of the old story of Puss in Boots. When she gets to Mount Kheiron she meets Honus who is half goat, half human being who is the pet of the Apex and who is a scholar who is charged with the education of the Apex's children. He is also put in charge of Malora's integration into the centaur society. He is the one who tells her about the distant past when the Scientists created the various creatures that now inhabit the world. He also shares great literature with her from Shakespeare and Stephenie Meyer, among others.

One recurring theme that goes through the book has to do with the visions that Malora has when she smells the various scent concoctions that Orion makes. She smells them and then has visions most of which come true during the course of this story. But some are left tantalizingly incomplete and give us some hints of what might happen in the next books in this series.

I really enjoyed this story. In fact, I stayed up late and got up early in order to keep reading. I can't wait to see what happens in the next books.
Profile Image for Jennifer Rinehart.
Author 1 book13 followers
March 15, 2012
Nope this book is not a joke, honeypie. My hubby thought I was joking when I tried to describe the plot to him, he gave me a weird lewd grin and I pushed him out of the room, sheesh, he's so immature.

So, I read the first chapter and then blah. So far I can't finish it. I guess I don't like the voice of the main character and the set up, so far, is not doing it for me.


I never went through a horse phase as a girl. I loved barbies, rainbows, unicorns and baby animals, especially bunnies, but horses were never really my thing. When I was ten, I was leaning against a fence and a horse bit me in the middle of my back. Just for information's sake, let me tell you a little bit about horse teeth and mouths, horses have super strong teeth, I mean it, really, really strong, they can bite down with pressures of several hundred pounds. The biting horse didn't break the skin but it hurt like crazy, I had a huge throbbing bruise and I had nightmares about rabid horses for weeks. Sounds a little silly now, but at the time, it was terrifying!

I got over it after a few years. I like horses, I like them a lot and have even toyed with the idea of taking riding lessons (I always put this off because my book budget is too high), but I think you'd have to really LOVE horses to get into this book because most of the book is about a girl who loves horses, a girl who lives with horses and lives with other people who love horses and in a society where some people are part horse.

Anyways, back to the review part, I couldn't finish this book. I try to give a book about 100 pages before giving up, but I had to let this one go at 49.

Here are the reasons, in no particular order, why I couldn't finish the book;

1. Too much horse stuff. For a book about centaurs, they just aren't around much, or at least not during the first few chapters.

2. The main character. I just couldn't relate to her, she's always thinking about horses.

3. A post apocolyptic world where centaurs have become the dominant species? I could wrap my mind around apes, ala Charlton Heston and the Planet of the Apes, but centaurs, hmmm, I guess I'm just not open minded enough, because I couldn't buy it especially since there is never an explanation for how this happened.

4. Horses. I can't stress enough how much horses figure into the story and how strangely dull it is.

5. Centaurs. I flipped forward skipping a lot of dull horse-y stuff (I know, so naughty of me! I'll forgo my mid morning chocolate snack as penance) to get to the centaurs, hoping that they would be the payoff, but alas, they were kinda boring. They didn't seem like a new race of beings, nobility or even wise, they mostly were just flat, one dimensional characters acting a part.

I'm not saying, 'don't read this,' but I am cautioning the non-horse lovers of the world, there just isn't enough story to make this work.

Here are some horse stories I did like, The Green Rider by Kristen Britain, The Black Stallion by Walter Farley, Thunderhead by Mary O'Hara and Watership Down by Richard Adams (or the reason I liked bunnies so much as a kid, well, at least until I had one as a pet, bunnies are fierce and have strong claws on their hind legs, watch out!).
Profile Image for Lovey Dovey Books.
626 reviews44 followers
March 3, 2017
Daughter of the Centaurs was not what I was expecting, but Kate Klimo has made me a believer in centaurs and this futuristic world she's created. Malora is one of the People, possibly the last of the People since everyone she has ever known was killed by ferocious Leatherwings. In an attempt to save her from the same fate, Malora's mother had packed up her favorite horse, Sky, and sent her out into the plains. After some of years wandering around, surviving, growing her herd of horses, Malora comes into contact with the perfect beings: centaurs. Half man, half horse. Orion vouches for Malora, considered to be an Otherian, and she's whisked into their home, Mount Kheiron. Though, there were certain aspects like the 14 edicts that Malora felt restricted her, she fit in well with the centaurs. I felt proud just to be reading her story, and that's how big a difference she made to the centaurs of Mount Kheiron. I actually got a little teary eyed towards the end!

Klimo introduces the centaur society with ease. From what I had heard about Daughter of the Centaurs before reading, I thought I would suffer from confusion or read too much going on at one time. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded because I had no trouble understanding and picturing this fantastical world Malora finds herself participating in. The plot is riddled with danger, fascinating events, and a culture very similar to our own but uniquely different. I thought it was so weird that the centaurs lived life like humans, with a few notable differences of course, but it was all new to Malora who lived primitively in her settlement in the mountains. The centaurs were led by Medon the Apex, who is then ruled by Lady Hylonome, Herself. If it weren't for the strict requirement to follow the Edicts, the separation of prosperous Highland centaurs from the Flatland centaurs, and the dissenting whispers of inequality and poor treatment from the Flatlanders, I would not have considered this story dystopian at all, just fantasy.

Malora was a character with character. She was strong and she knew how to take care of herself, and her horses. I loved the fact that she had such an affinity for horses. Maybe it was Klimo's style of writing, or personal experiences taken to write about these horses, but I was just so captured by the moments when Malora connected with her 'boys and girls'.

There's a bit of a history between centaurs and the People, and whatever other kinds of creatures may be lurking in the shadows of the story, and while Klimo does take a considerate amount of time to establish it I want to know more. Yes, you will find yourself asking many questions about where the centaurs, and even the Twani, originate from but that's the best part of reading Daughter of the Centaurs. It's only the beginning of the Centauriad series and there's opportunity to find out more in it's sequel, A Gathering of Wings!

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