Parents' Guide to


By Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Alchemy and magical horses star in solid dystopian tale.

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This exciting fantasy featuring horses with phoenix powers and interesting characters is weighed down by the inclusion of too many ideas. The descriptions in Ashlords of phoenix horse alchemy, their deaths and rebirths, and the thrill of riding these magical creatures is beautifully portrayed. The tightly drawn world of the Races runs like a movie in the reader's mind. Imelda, Pippa, and Adrian have compelling motivations and conflicts. Their efforts to be better than the world expects of them are powerful.

Reintgen falters in world building and included several confusing story elements. The Dividians were failed invaders -- that's why the Ashlords oppress them -- but it's a mystery that the Dividians stayed in the Empire at all. Overlaying racial and class differences on this already complicated society means it's difficult to draw parallels to the world we live in now. There are also gods who favor the oppressive Ashlords and enslave spirits in the afterlife, but readers never learn why on either account. This book is a mixed bag -- an entertaining read that leaves the reader with lots of questions. Luckily for readers who get hooked, there'll be a sequel.

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