Centaurs. What’s not to love about the horse-person combo? Beauty and strength, wrapped up in a dynamic hybrid that’s usually surrounded by epic myth. This is what I’ve come to expect from centaurs, anyway, and lucky for me, Kate Klimo’s Centauriad #1: Daughter of the Centaurs didn’t let me down.
But, before we get to the lovely horse people, we need to start with a human girl named Malora. Raised in a small village, Malora had a simple life, though one she loved. Her father was an amazing hunter and horse-wrangler, and she wanted to be just like him. Mom wanted her to follow in her footsteps, learning the herbs and plants that helped with medicine, but eventually she gave in and Malora started learning all the dynamic skills she’d need to help her father. But when her father and his hunters are killed by horrible flying bat-like creatures called Leatherwings, with Malora as the only witness to the horrible event, her mother soon sends her out on her own to protect her from the inevitably fatal attack on the village. With just her father’s horse to help her, she roams the plains, eventually adopting a herd of horses that travel with her.
When she encounters centaurs, the very creatures that wiped out most of the human race, she fears them at first. But a kind son of the centaur leader befriends her and shows her how to slowly trust them. She’s taken to their city and is once again surrounded by comfort and the appearance of safety. However, the more she learns, the more she sees that she needs to forget who she truly is in order to belong, and she’s not quite sure she’s willing to do that. Is it worth it? That’s the question Klimo raises, and it takes to the end of the book to truly experience the answer.
This book surprised me in many ways. It wasn’t the typical YA fare I’m used to reading, in that the main girl doesn’t in fact hook up somehow with the main guy. Really imagine what I’m saying for a moment. The entire time I was reading I was waiting for the human to fall in love with the centaur and for them to have some sort of forbidden love… and yeah, it gets a little awkward once you start that train of thought. I have read a saucy P.C. Cast book where this does in fact happen, with a little magical help, so it can hardly be expected that I didn’t entertain those thoughts at least once. But Kate Klimo handled the human-centaur relationship with ease and grace, and they were lovely characters to watch interact.
Another enjoyable aspect was the alone-time Malora had with her herd out on the plains. It had a Clan of the Cavebear meets My Side of the Mountain feel, which I thoroughly enjoyed, though these elements were presented in a fresh way with the addition of the horses. I’ve never been one of those girls obsessed with horses, but even I could see the appeal of being constantly surrounded by these beautiful, intelligent animals.
I like the way the story progressed; it had a natural, almost expectant feel, without being predictable. The climax was filled with physical fun, and seeing new sides to characters with expected reactions was an additional treat.
Overall, I was really pleased with this book. Fun fantasy with a fresh feel, and hot sexy horse men: what could be better? I’m really looking forward to seeing where the series goes and who the mysterious silvery man who keeps appearing in Malora’s dreams is. I’m eager to see the ways Klimo expands the world; if book one is any indication, book two will be a lovely story to get lost in.
Centauriad #1: Daughter of the Centaurs by Kate Klimo hit shelves this past Tuesday, January 24th 2012.