From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-When 14-year-old Amelia Otterchild Mackenzie is orphaned, she and her younger half sister, Charlotte, are taken in by her mother's ailing tribe, the Swampy Cree of the Hudson Bay area. Her Scottish father left the family for the Red River Valley years earlier but never returned. When a beautiful and mysterious horse washes ashore, saving Amelia's life, she recognizes him as her pawakan, or spirit guide. The horse, a red Norfolk stallion named Foxfire, belongs to Orchid, a proper young British woman who is taking the horse as dowry to her new husband in the Red River Valley. Believing this to be an omen, Amelia is determined to accompany the horse and search for her father. Despite strong cultural differences, Amelia and Orchid learn from each other and form a common bond in caring for Foxfire during the long, harsh journey. Amelia is strong and likable, her native knowledge and perspective interesting and fresh. Historical detail is plentiful almost to the point of slowing down the story at times, but the language is beautiful and accomplished, making this novel of discovery and survival an enjoyable and authentic read. With plenty of equestrian-infused drama and a satisfying conclusion, it won't disappoint strong readers of historical fiction and horse lovers.-Madeline J. Bryant, Los Angeles Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Following her mother’s death, 14-year-old Amelia Ottergirl Mackenzie and her younger half sister, Charlotte, both half Cree, went to live with her mother’s tribe, near Hudson Bay. After Amelia encounters Foxfire, a horse recently brought from England, and develops a unique spiritual and mystical connection with him, her life changes. She also learns information about her father, who left when Amelia was a baby. Determined to find him, Amelia and Charlotte head to Red River Valley with other travelers and with Foxfire, a trip that proves both challenging and rewarding. As with Harrison’s The Horse Road (2012), this stand-alone Historical Horses title, set in 1800s Canada, brings the settings and diverse characters to life through an engaging protagonist and vividly descriptive prose. Amelia’s first-person narrative is eloquent and intimate, interweaving Native American culture, customs, beliefs, and language with details about settler life and horses. Issues, from facing prejudice to making sense of friendship and family, are all sympathetically explored. An absorbing read that will appeal to horse lovers and historical-fiction fans alike. Grades 4-7. --Shelle Rosenfeld