Daughter of the Centaurs, by Kate Klimo

Kate Klimo, author of the popular Dragon Keepers series for children, has launched a new trilogy aimed at older teens. The first book in the Centauriad series, Daughter of the Centaurs, introduces Malora, a girl growing up in a hunter-gatherer village in a post-apocalyptic future. Malora dreams of becoming a master horse-trainer like her father, and when her tribe is slaughtered by monsters her affinity with horses is all that allows her to survive. She spends several years wandering, collecting a herd of semi-tamed horses as a makeshift family, but eventually she is captured by centaurs—humanoid creatures that view themselves as the true face of civilization, and Malora as a potential danger.

Daughter of the Centaurs has major flaws. Klimo skims over her heroine's psychological reactions to the huge shifts in her life, aiming instead for a Robin McKinley-style blend of magical and mundane details. Unfortunately, her real-life elements make little sense. When she name-drops Stephenie Meyer (apparently, spoiled, half-horse princesses in the post-apocalyptic future still find Twilight, like, totally meaningful) or lovingly describes lavish centaur bathrooms, it forced me to stop accepting the novel as pure fantasy and start thinking about it logically. What lead to the creation of centaurs in the first place? What caused humanity's fall? How would a human girl use a toilet designed for a horse? (Follow up question: “Do I really want to know?”) No answers are provided, and the book suffers for it.

Admittedly, I still found the world of Daughter of the Centaurs just imaginative enough, and its heroine just sympathetic enough, and the glimpses of future plot elements just tantalizing enough to keep me around for book two. (A Gathering of Wings, due out in May.) Klimo has handicapped herself with a million little logical pitfalls, but if she puts some serious effort into her world-building skills, she might be able to come up with a back-story that simultaneously supports what she's already written and moves her series forward in a more interesting—or at least more coherent—direction.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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