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The Secret Horses of Briar Hill

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,100 ratings  ·  535 reviews
There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.

One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white hors
Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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Sarah Moore I just finished listening to the audiobook with my 6&9yo daughters. It’s definitely a more mature read with themes of death of family & friends, sickn…moreI just finished listening to the audiobook with my 6&9yo daughters. It’s definitely a more mature read with themes of death of family & friends, sickness (coughing up blood), wartime; and some intense/suspenseful/scary moments. The overarching theme though is hope and I think that keeps it from getting too dark, if your reader is up for the content. :)(less)
Brian I don't think an 8-year-old will get the allegory of the horses, but they'll probably enjoy the basic plot and friendship between Anna and Emmaline.…moreI don't think an 8-year-old will get the allegory of the horses, but they'll probably enjoy the basic plot and friendship between Anna and Emmaline.(less)

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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  2,100 ratings  ·  535 reviews

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Maggie Stiefvater
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes a book feels like it has always existed. It’s not that it’s predictable nor unadventurous, merely that you can’t shake the feeling as you turn pages that it is familiar — you’ve read it before or just known that it existed for so long that it feels as if you had.

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill was that way for me. Other blurbs for it compare it to The Secret Garden (it does have a secret garden) or The Chronicles of Narnia (it does have tiny British children in big houses), but really,
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to karen by: Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Shelves: kiddiwinx
i definitely enjoyed reading this book, but like Rooftoppers, i have a feeling it would have been something i enjoyed even more if i had read it when i was a little girl, one of those books you read during those soft, impressionable whitebread years, which stick to your soul and become a part of who you are. i have a lot of those books, the most important of which was Island of the Blue Dolphins, and while this is nothing like that in theme or tone, it gives me the same impression of having that ...more
Hannah Greendale
Emmaline May has a secret: there are winged horses living in the mirrors of Briar Hill. Once the home of a princess, Briar Hill is now a hospital for sick children whose parents are fighting in the war. When Emmaline sneaks into Briar Hill's forbidden garden, she discovers a winged horse who cannot return home to the mirror-world until her injured wing is repaired. Only Emmaline can see the horse, so she alone must save it, but a creature of darkness prowling the skies and her own failing health ...more
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
This book is too sad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He hands me a blue ticket. He uses the tickets so the Sisters will know what treatment we need each week. There are three colors: Blue for patients who are well enough to go outside for exercise and fresh air. Yellow for those who must limit their activity to indoors. Red for the ones-the one, because it is only Anna-too ill to leave their beds

That's all I have, it's too sad! The author's note is sad too. But it is what happens or happe
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Now available! 4.5 stars. Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Emmaline knows a secret: Briar Hill, a Shropshire mansion turned into a children’s hospital during World War II, has beautiful winged horses that live in the mirrors of its elegant rooms. They move in and out of the mirror-rooms, walking through doorways, nosing half-finished cups of tea. But only Emmaline can see them, and she keeps the secret to herself. She knows the boys like Benny and Jack will tease her mercilessly

This book...this book! It does something to you. All the emotions, from joy and true happiness to almost unbearable pain, all of it is so worth it! At war times, sometimes your own fantasy and magical world can be your saviour. And that's exactly what this book is all about. It's a mix of true facts and wonderful fantasy, created by Emmaline, one of the sick children at Briar Hill hospital. Since the war is upon them and dark days lay ahead, they try to find laughter and joy wherever they can. B
Actual rating 4.5

The images within this book are evocative, gorgeous, and just downright perfect, with occasional double spread images that help to fill out the picture. But the words in themselves will reach right into your heart and pull on those strings. In truth, my feelings about this book actually grew overnight, between staying up late to finish the last few chapters and sitting down to write this review the following evening.

Upon closing this book, I felt there were too many things left
Neil (or bleed)
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Neil (or bleed) by: Lola Reviewer
Whether I believe the horses in this book are truly magical or just a figment of imagination from the main character's mind, the impact is still the same. I loved this book! And I loved reading it!

The Secret Horses of Briar Hill is an evocative, profound middle grade novel that reminds us of hope despite the tragedies this world brings.

It's a enchanting tale of friendship, of love, courage and determination to push through with life. It's a great novel that stays with you for a long time and wi
Megan Shepherd
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I've never rated one of my own books before, but this one has a special place in my heart. I'm giving it five stars for that beautiful cover, for the blood, sweat, and tears between the pages, and for all the many people who helped and inspired me along the way. Thank you all, and happy reading. ...more
Beautiful book!

Set during WWII, a young girl at a hospital for tubercular children in Britain makes a startling discovery: there are winged horses you can only see in the mirrors of the hospital. But are they real, or a product of a fevered brain? And is it the horses who need her help, or does she need theirs?

Very much reminded me of books like The Secret Garden, which Shepherd cites as an inspiration and childhood favorite in her Author's Note.
Ivonne Rovira
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone with a heart
Recommended to Ivonne by: NetGalley
Some children’s books are simply wasted on children: The Little Prince, Outside Over There, The Polar Express, The Book Thief, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the Harry Potter series, Flotsam, The Magic Thief and its sequels.

Add to that select list Megan Shepherd’s The Secret Horses of Briar Hill.

Like so many English children during World War II, Emmeline May has been sent to Shropshire; however, unlike those other children, Emmeline and the other children at Briar Hill hospital has not been sent
Book Riot Community
Trapped in a hospital, surrounded by children inflicted with stillwaters, Emmaline keeps a secret: she can see winged horses in the mirrors. When one of those winged horses arrives injured in her world, it’s up to Emmaline to protect it – but how can you protect something so magical when you’re barely able to stand? The Secret Horses of Briar Hill pushes the boundaries of magical realism, leaving readers entirely uncertain as to whether or not the magic is in Emmaline’s heart or in her hospital ...more
Melanie (TBR and Beyond)
This book was so beautiful, I just can't take it! This book truly is magical and I believed every word.

I really like historical middle grade books because while they convey a good sense of a time period, they are focused more on personal stories than the bigger picture and combine the tragedy with beauty and magic. This book is no exeption. It's just as engaging to adult readers than to its target audience. The clear writing works really well and the setting and atmosphere are spot on. Emmaline is a believable protagonist, too, and her quest very appealing.
Some minor critiscm is that I wasn't inv
Jodi Meadows
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I cried no fewer than four times -- including during the author's note. ...more
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars, fantasy
So. I was reading this for my bookclub. I was supposed to read over 3 months but I ended up reading it in 2 days.
This book is amazing. It is sad and mysterious.
I loved it!

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True Kessler
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A serious reading slump kept me from finishing this book sooner, but wow guys. This book is amazing. All I can say is if you have middle grade aged children, please read this book with them. (Or just read it for yourself - it’s not to be missed no matter your age) It’s truly a modern children’s classic. There are no ideas that children are not equipped to handle hard and complicated topics/emotions in this book. RTC.
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
The book is really makes me feel happy and inspired. This book is a rollercoaster of emotions that make me love it. The main character is supposed to be helpless but she overcomes so much. Even though she's really young she lost so much but still hopes and believes in the beauty of the world. Her struggles make this book real and relatable that made me enjoy it. I predicted a little bit of the plot but I was still shocked sometimes. When she endures the grief of her friend really made me love he ...more
”I have a secret.

But I’ll tell you.

There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital.”

Synopsis: A little girl stuck in a hospital dares to make us cry with her visions of horses haunting the halls and mirrors of the rooms and corridors she dwells in.

It’s a Hard Knock Life: Emmaline has tuberculosis, known to her as the still-waters. She lives in a converted mansion that was transformed into a hospital along with other children who have her condition
Brenda Waworga
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a magical book... it reminds me alot of NARNIA but with more simple story and magic system! (well its a standalone so its understandable)

Even tho the book cover looks cute... this story is actually dark and gloom and SAD 😭🤧

Took setting at a lonely children hospital in the middle of WorldWar with Wintery season.. youll follow Emmaline an orphan little girl who can see Horses with wings behind the miror, she told some people ofc but no one believe her.. until one day she met a winghorse at th
La La
This was a genuinely nice story. The length was perfect for a Middle Grade, too. So many of the MGs I have read lately have been too long. The story dealt with war, sickness and death, but still managed quite a bit of Magical Realism whimsy. The historical elements seem to have been well researched.

Another aspect I appreciated with this book is there was no adult thinking. Too many MGs as of late either have the MC thinking and acting like an adult, or are heavy on the adult secondary character
Lindsay Cummings
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Megan Shepherd has such a great writing voice...I instantly felt that it was her writing, when I picked this up. a lovely story, perfect for kids but lots of deeper meanings for adults as well. I loved it!!
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I didn't make a single note on this book, didn't save a single highlight. That's unusual for me; I usually take full advantage of my Kindle's abilities to augment my memory.

Then again, I don't really need notes in order to remember this book. I'll remember it for a long time. It's a sweet, sad book set in the middle of WWII about a girl sent to a mansion deep in the English countryside that has been converted to a hospital. They're quarantined there, with an alarming disease – which is why Emma
Apr 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Oh, this book. I borrowed this on a whim from the library, and I'm so very glad that I did. Megan Shepard has woven a beautiful tale in The Secret Horses of Briar Hill. One that manages to mix fantasy and reality in a way that is both heartbreaking and sweet. I fell in love with Emmaline from page one, and I honestly wish that her story had gone on a little longer.

The writing in this book felt so familiar. Like an old friend, that I hadn't picked up in a while. I'd most easily compare this to so
Carina Olsen
I can't begin to tell you how happy it makes me to have been able to read and review this book so early, when it isn't even out until October. It means the very most to me. Thank you so, so much to Anna for sending me this print ARC for review. <3 Simply the most gorgeous. This cover is truly something special. I adore it.

I'm unsure about how to review this stunning book, though. Because I didn't love it. But I liked it so so much. The writing is gorgeous. The characters are so interesting to re
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"I have a secret. I won't tell Benny and the other boys. They are like dogs in the night, snarling at anything that moves. I won't tell Anna either, even though she is nice to me and shares her colored pencils.
But I'll tell you.
This is my secret: there are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill Hospital."

Review to come.
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, but it was so so sad!!! I can honestly say that I feel really ignorant for not knowing all that has happened in history. Children going to live away from others because they have TB so others don't catch it from them. Leaving their families and homes behind. According to the Author's note this truly did happen back then. I've been very interested in World War II since I was young and never even knew about this happening.

I loved the winged horse plot of the story and
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
I’ve always liked Megan Shepherd’s work, but the first indication that I had that The Secret Horses of Briar Hill was going to be something truly special, was when I described the book to a coworker’s thirteen-year-old daughter, and I watched her eyes light up.

The idea of winged horses seemed magical to her, and I quickly learned that she was right. Because The Secret Horses… is a magical book, and I can easily see this book becoming a new American (and likely, global) classic.
In a short but imp
Elena Johansen
It was sad, it was happy, it was hopeful. It was far more of a roller coaster of emotions than I'm used to crediting a middle-grade novel with. I had no trouble reading it in just under a day.

But in the end, though I loved it while I was reading it, something feels missing for me, some spark. It felt rote at times, even predictable, and that's not just me reading something far below my age group. It never surprised me, which isn't a requirement for a book to be enjoyable, but it never gave me mu
Oct 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This was an all around nice story; it's a bit of a compliment and an insult rolled into one. It didn't stick out to me as the kind of story that would maintain a hold on me for any length of time, but I do think it would have that desired effect on someone the right age.

In THAT mindset, what's not to love? A headstrong little girl, colorful pegasi, a quest that involves finding the colors of the rainbow. And our little girl is the guardian of one precious pegasus in particular.

I think my bigges
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New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is the author of several young adult and middle grade novels. She now lives and writes on a 125-year-old farm outside Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, two cats, and an especially scruffy dog.

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